Due to the continued global spread of the COVID19 virus and the associated impact upon public health and safely in Japan, reservations for all tours and experience programs will be SUSPENDED until May 2020, or until the situation improves and relevant restrictions upon travel are lifted.
We look forward to welcoming you back to Tohoku as soon as possible. In the meantime, please stay safe and well!
~ Inoutbound Sendai Matsushima Inc.
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.
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.
Take a relaxing bath in the hot springs.
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.
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):
*This accommodation package is available all year round and can be customised to suit your itinerary / the needs of your group upon request: here*