Everyday (except NY holiday period)

Hidden hot-spring retreat at Hijiori-onsen

Disconnect from the digital and reconnect with nature (oriental vegetarian dinner included)


Ever wished you could just switch off your digital devices and leave the constant pressure and demands of your busy modern lifestyle behind you? We may have found the answer! 


Located deep (and we mean deep!) in the mountains of Yamagata prefecture lies Hijiori-onsen, a quaint hidden-away hot spring village of terraced rice-fields and traditional Ryokan inns lining a narrow river. Recently, the village received attention for reaching record-breaking levels of snowfall – over 4.5 metres – during the winter of 2018 (the deepest snowfall recorded in the entire country for that year).


Where better to hide yourself away??


This accommodation-inclusive program is designed to give travelers a deeper, more meaningful experience of staying at a Japanese hot spring inn. Not only will you have the opportunity to bathe in the local baths (multiple times!), your town-walk guide will first introduce you to the culture behind hot-springs in Japan and history of ‘touji’ (restorative hot-spring therapy) to ensure you know how to make the most of your experience.


And it won’t just be your mind and body that benefit from this retreat – don’t forget about your stomach! The highlight of the program will be the special ‘Shojin-ryori’ course dinner.  Hijiori-onsen is actually one of the ancient entrances to Dewasanzan, the Three Holy Mountains of Dewa. A pilgrimage through all three mountains (Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono) is believed to represent a journey of rebirth, with each mountain representing the present, the past and rebirth. The journey gives pilgrims the chance to both reflect on their lives and reconnect with nature by receiving the spiritual power of the mountains. One way of receiving this power is to eat ‘Shojin Ryori’ (Japanese Shinto vegetarian cuisine) made with the wild local vegetables from the mountains. Traditonally, visitors would eat a Shojin Ryori meal made with vegetables and mushrooms from Mt. Gassan and purify themselves in the hot-spring water of Hijiori before beginning their pilgrimage.  


Switch off your phone, leave your laptop and emails behind, and immerse yourself in the pristine nature and ancient spiritual wisdom of northern Japan. 


What’s Included

~ Overnight stay at traditional hot-spring inn (Matsuya)
~ Dinner (full course shojin ryori menu) and breakfast (doesn't include drinks)
~ Walking tour
~ Travel insurance

Not included

~ Any additional meals and drinks
~ Optional activities on the second day
~ Anything not included in the above included list

Meeting place



Take town bus from JR Shinjo Station departing at 13:45, arriving at Hijiori-onsen Machiai-jo (the terminal station) at 14:40.


Tour program begins with a walking tour of the Hijiori-onsen town area.

Be shown around the tiny winding streets lined with traditional hot-spring inns and shops.

Learn more about Japan’s culture of bathing in hot springs and how to make the most of the experience.


Check-in to your lodging for the night.

You will stay a rustic hot-spring ryokan inn called ‘Matsuya’, famous for its atmospheric ‘cavern baths’ said to have been created in the Taisho Era by digging out a private spring inside the grounds of the inn. 

(Matsuya homepage)


Take a relaxing bath in the hot springs.


Dinner time!

Enjoy a specially prepared ‘Shojin-ryori’ course menu created using only local vegetables and ingredients (100% oriental vegetarian/vegan). The local Shojin Ryori dishes of Hijiori-onsen were traditionally prepared and consumed by Shinto priests and pilgrims as part of their ascetic practice and preparation for their pilgrimage to the Three Holy Mountains of Dewa. These days, the meal is often enjoyed by lay people who seek to refresh their body and mind and to escape the hum-drum of their busy modern lifestyle.

The particular menu you will enjoy as part of this experience package is called ‘Blessing of Mt. Gassan’ and is an original and completely oriental vegetarian menu based on the traditional way of cooking Shojin ryori in the Hijiori area. Each dish is created solely from unique wild vegetables and seasonal ingredients.

Receive power from the local mountains with each bite, before taking another relaxing soak in the hot springs following the meal.

Next day

Wake up feeling refreshed and sneak-in another cheeky hot spring bath before sitting down to another tasty local meal for breakfast. 

If you are staying outside of the winter season (and don’t mind an early start), it is also recommended to visit the local morning market. Vendors selling vegetables, street food and other produce will set-up shop along the winding village streets. Stroll around, chat with the locals and maybe pick up something tasty for a second breakfast or early lunch! 

After checking out of your accommodation, choose from a range of great local activities available, or head back to Shinjo to continue your adventure. 

Local experience programs (suggestions):

  • Vegetarian cooking class using ingredients from the morning market
  • Trek to Dewasanzan (Three Holy Mountains of Dewa) with Yamabushi guide
  • In winter – snow activities (snow-shoeing etc.) , snow-hut making, snow-shoveling experience

*This accommodation package is available all year round and can be customised to suit your itinerary / the needs of your group upon request: here



Hijiori Onsen Machiai-jo (terminal bus stop)
15:00 ~ next day
2~4 persons
18000 JPY (※approx. $165 USD)
Sign-up Deadline
Reservations accepted up to three days prior to booking date.
Cancellation Policy
Up to three days prior, no cancellation fee.
Two days prior: 20%
Day before: 30%
On the day: 100%
If the minimum number of participants is not met the event will be cancelled.


Basic Plan

Price 18000 JPY (approx. $165 USD)

Are you looking for a ‘deeper’ kind of travel?

At Tohoku ‘Local Secret’ Tours we can also suggest custom-made itineraries to meet your travel needs! You want to experience what’s unique to Tohoku.
You want to visit the places where the locals go; the places not listed in guidebooks!
You want to meet and interact with local people. You want to take your time exploring Tohoku so you need a guide, or perhaps an English-speaking driver...
...whatever you need for your Tohoku travel, we have it covered!
Feel free to contact us with any inquiries. We will respond within two business days after receiving your message.

Book now!


April 13-24 (Weekdays only)
Perfect ‘Hanami’ Picnic at Shiogama-Jinja (Shinto)Shrine
Hungry Samurai: Sendai Food & Culture Tour
Everyday (except Sunday)
Spirit of Japanese Sake in Shiogama
Kimono Walking Tour of Matsushima
August 3 – 6
Tohoku Summer Festival Marathon (August 3 – 6)
August 3~5
Summer Festival Fever in Aomori
August 5 -6
Star Festival Duo: Akita Kanto & Sendai Tanabata
Saturday, August 09
Sustainable Kitchen in Izunuma
Outdoor Tea Ceremony
Everyday (except Monday)
Sendai Festival Fever: ‘Suzume-odori’ workshop & after-party
Everyday (except Sun)
Secrets of Shiogama’s ‘Seaweed Salt’: Foodie walking tour
Weekdays (except NY Holiday period)
Veggie Harvest & Cooking Class
Everyday April~June & Sept ~ November
DIY Sake Experience
Weekdays (except NY holiday period)
Countryside Farm-stay
Everyday (except NY holiday period)
Earth-friendly art: Bamboo straw workshop (with lunch)
Fish Market Adventure
Japanese Sword-Smith Workshop Experience
weekday:This is seasonal tour (only for 5 months from June to October)
Scallop Fisherman’s Cruise Tour
Story-telling of Tsunami Disaster on the Spot
Samurai Dance Performance
Attracxi: Gastronomic Discovery of Sendai’s ‘Date’ Culture
Attracxi: Mysteries of the Three Holy Mountains of Dewa
Everyday (except NY holiday period)
Hidden hot-spring retreat at Hijiori-onsen
Local cuisine cooking class & traditional hearth-fire lunch
NINJA training at a natural ‘power spot’
By request
Local Japanese Cooking Class near Sendai International Airport
Experience New Year in Japan
Everyday (except NY holiday period)
Earth-friendly art: Bamboo straw workshop (+lodging)
Sat, Feb 22 ~ Sun, Feb 23
Tale of the Eagle: Sake, snow and sustainability
October 3-5
Active Autumn in the Countryside
Local cuisine cooking class & traditional hearth-fire lunch (+lodging)

Related Tags

18000 JPY

Book now!