It’s now common to pick your accommodation online and book it over the web. However, surprisingly there are still some quite popular places that you can book only by phone or a post card! Among all 113 municipal hotels in Japan Ibaraki prefecture’s “Kokuminshukusha Unomisaki” has been the most visited in the last 25 years. But why is it so popular? Let’s find out the secret charm of Unomisaki.
At Unomisaki they welcome you with a frock coat
Unomisaki is located in Hitachi city’s Ishihama area, surrounded by the sea and mountains. As soon as you arrive at the hotel, a guy dressed in a frock-coat will come out to welcome you. It feels like a five-star luxurious hotel, but it’s an inexpensive municipality-owned accommodation facility. There are 113 of them all over Japan and everyone can use them. The price for one night with two meals is reasonable, while the service is top-class, therefore those hotels have been popular for years.
The entrance is on the second floor and the lobby is spacious with lots of windows.
8 types of rooms
There are a total of 8 types of rooms for every purpose and taste: Japanese-style (with and without a bath), Western-style (single and twin), rooms for people in wheelchairs (twin and family), special rooms (Japanese-Western style or Japanese style). All of them face the ocean and you can relax watching the beautiful panorama from the windows.
On the photo you can see the Western-style non-smoking twin room. The amenities equal a luxurious hotel and the room is so big that there will still be space even if you add an extra bed. The Japanese-style rooms have tatami mats and flooring, and they’re also quite wide.
Dinner and breakfast are served in the circular restaurant “Shiosai” connected to the main lobby through a corridor. There are 4 dinner sets, each of them consisting of seasonal local foods from Ibaraki prefecture. On the photo you can see February’s B-set which consists of 8 splendid dishes, among which you will find Hitachi beef sukiyaki, 5 pieces of sashimi, fried fish, cooked rice with seafood and others. Besides that you can have as much rice, clam soup and pork soup as you want for dinner, so you will be fully satisfied. You can also book in advance delicacies such as goosefish hot pot (only in winter), seafood salad and tempura with wild plants.
Breakfast is served in a buffet style. From the restaurant and its connecting corridor you can enjoy the view of the sea outside.
The morning sun is something you must see if you go to Unomisaki!
From Unomisaki you can see the Pacific Ocean. One great thing not to miss here is the rising sun! In every room you’ll find a schedule of the sunrise and sunset times for the entire year, written like a TV program schedule.
For girls I recommend welcoming the morning sun from the female hot spring bath on the 8th floor. The view of the rising sun from this panorama pool is magnificent! You can watch the sun rising up from the horizon as you’re soaking in the hot water. Unomisaki Onsen’s hot spring is rich in sodium and sulfates. It’s good for treating nerve and muscle pains, as well as sensitivity to cold.
Unfortunately, the male bath doesn’t offer a view to the rising sun, but there is a lobby between the two baths where I took the photo above. You can watch the sun here after your bath.
Cormorants come to Unomisaki!
As its name suggests, Unomisaki is a cape where real cormorants come. East of the main building you will find a sand beach and a precipitous cliff where Japanese cormorants can be caught. A person under the straw roof waits for the cormorants to come and catches them with a metal stick. In the past other tools were used, but as they hurt the birds’ wings, it has been decided to use a metal stick with a U-shaped hook at its end. The cormorants caught here are sent to Nagaragawa River where they’re used for the popular traditional cormorant fishing.
You can see this facility during the off-season between January-March and July-September, from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm every day. There is also a facility called “cormorant paradise” where several cormorants used for bait are raised. This is a rare occasion to see cormorants from close, so be sure to visit the place.
You can only make a reservation by phone or a post-card!
Unomisaki is famous for its panorama view, good rooms and delicious food, but making a reservation there can be quite difficult. There is an official website, but reservations are only accepted by phone! You can book from 3 months in advance, starting from the 1st of every month. Around 8:30 am when the bookings start to come in, the lines get very busy, but don’t give up as there are still chances to find a room. However, during high-season periods such as the summer vacation and the end of the year, reservation is accepted only through applying with a return post-card and waiting for the results of the lottery. Even if you can’t reserve a room, you can wait for a cancellation, so be sure to check the availability on the website often. If you seize the moment and make a phone call you’ll have success.
“Kokuminshukusha Unomisaki” Address: Ibaraki prefecture, Hitachi city, Juoumachi Ishi 640 Telephone: 0294-39-2202
How to make a reservation: By phone: from every 1st day of the month (you can make a reservation three months in advance) By a return post-card lottery: for staying between July 20 and August 31 (you must send the postcard between April 1-10), and between December 30 and January 1 (you must send the postcard between October 1-10).
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