Sponsored by Oita Prefecture/Tourism Oita
If you ever have the opportunity to stay in an authentic Japanese Ryokan, with an authentic Japanese family, jump at it! While the capsule hotels and bright lights of Tokyo may have recently stolen the limelight in terms of popular tourism, there is nothing quite like getting your hands on a truly traditional Japanese experience. So step away from the bright lights and back in time to the comforts of an authentic Japanese Farmer’s stay.
Recently, Japan has sparked a movement to encourage farmers in local farm villages to open up their beautifully traditional homes to guests who wish to experience the simplicity of country life in Japan. Such houses are simple in style, but are extremely comfortable and elegant, enabling you to relax to the fullest in the midst of some beautiful scenery. Wander around the gardens in a beautiful traditional Japanese robe and feast upon some truly wholesome, homemade, Japanese cuisine, often fresh and fielded from their very own grounds. With their pristine Japanese-style gardens, the beautiful trickling of their accompanying water features and the peaceful serenity surrounding these buildings, they are the perfect choice for anyone interested in experiencing all the comforts of true Japanese scenery and hospitality.
As you can imagine, a farmer’s stay differs quite extensively from a western-style hotel. For one thing, they actually do feature the iconic sliding paper doors (shoji) we have all seen in the movies and yes, they are really that fragile. The floors are made from reed matts called tatami, and most of the time you are likely to be seated on a zabuton (a floor cushion), as you eat your meal from a very low, wooden table. Staying true to tradition, many Ryokans do not have central heating, instead opting for portable heaters and kotatsus (heaters concealed under a table top and covered completely in a blanket) in the winter. But perhaps the most striking difference is that there is no bed. Instead, you are provided with bundles of quilts and mattresses, which need to be laid out before you go to sleep. While this may seem strange at first, the large amount of beautifully squishy layers in your futon makes for an incredibly comfortable and satisfying sleep, not to mention there is no chance of accidentally falling out of bed.
I was lucky enough to be spoiled by the most amazing Japanese couple at my farmer’s stay in Oita. We all picked fruit and vegetables from the trees outside for our dinner, and I was then taught to make Dango-soup, one of the most famous and traditional meals in Oita prefecture. If hand making those thin noodles, frying fresh vegetables to make the tempura and delicately constructing the complete meal weren’t enough to completely relax every bone in my body, the family also drove me to a nearby Onsen. From the moment I stepped through the door, to the second I left, it was like spending time in a real home with a real family. This is the kind of hospitality and level of comfort that you can expect from a farmer’s stay in Oita.
Safe to say staying in a farmer’s inn in the countryside is nothing like staying in a Western-style hotel and not just because many humble farmers do not speak much English. And, while that may be daunting at first, the kindness, hospitality and sheer curiosity of most farmers will help to make your stay one you are not likely to forget. Share your culture and immerse yourself in Japanese tradition as you are given the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience all this country has to offer in the best way possible.
【Name】Karinsha 【Category】Farmer’s stay 【Address】1775-1, Sano, Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture 879-0612
【Opening Hours】Check-in 15:00 〜 【Price Range】¥6,500 for adult 〜 【Payment options】Cash