Sponsored by Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation
Tara Kakezaki is a spa resort located in Saga Prefecture, Kyushu Island. It has a high reputation for its seafood, primarily for its crab and oysters, as well as for its nori seaweed. The Hoyoso ryokan, on the shoreside of the Ariake Sea, offers us a wonderful and delicious trip and the chance to rejuvenate while in the region.
Kani-mabushi from Hoyoso Ryokan, a Crab Feast
The crab, King of Tara, is the emblem of the Hoyoso Ryokan, so we can see crab icons on anything from towels to the key-chains of the bedroom door. The specialty of the ryokan is indeed the kani-mabushi (かにまぶし). This is a donburi meal, a large bowl of rice covered with steamed crab meat and topped with thin strips of grilled nori seaweed and an omelette.
To enjoy crabs to the maximum extent , they provided us with four different types to taste in several stages. The first came with miso kani. Second with a raised sauce whose recipe is “kept secret.” Then with ponzu sauce (soy sauce mixed with citrus juice such as yuzu). Finally, we ate them in chazuke-style, a kind of rice soup: we put the rest of the rice in a bowl to make it cool. On top crabs were decorated with strips of nori, arare, and sesame seeds, then we poured on the whole, a perfumed broth which warms up and binds together.
Each step is carefully explained to you and four bowls are available to you to be able to appreciate each distinct taste brought out by the condiment, without mixing them. You can adjust the amount of rice, crab and sauce as you like.
This real seafood feast also included crab prepared in many forms: grilled, boiled, karried (fried), and chawan mushi (steamed egg flan).
A paper written in Japanese presents the explanation about preconceived ideas of crabs. Far from being a uniform dish, it offers a real diversity of tastes and textures depending on the cooking style and their method of preparation. Then, it is not as constricting as it seems to eat. Thus, everything is prepared in anticipation of a feast, with several oshibori (moistened towels), various utensils and tongs to use for the meal; and a salad bowl filled with fresh water with a slice of citrus to wash your hands.
To end this meal session nicely, we can enjoy ochazuke, a simple rice bowl with some crustacean makes for a pleasant relief. It is an ideal meal for late evenings among Japanese. In addition, nothing is lost, each part of the crab being used in the cooking process.
An Open Air Bath (Rotenburo) – Another Highlight for Ryokan
The Hoyoso Ryokan features a beautiful outdoor Rotenburo bath (星降る露天), located on a rooftop terrace accessed by an outside staircase. A cabin to deposit your yukata and to dry after bathing is set up as an observatory; a telescope is even available to observe the sky. What a delight created by the contrast between the freshness of the autumnal air at dusk and the gentle warmth of the bath water! “Time stops, the sky unfolds” as nicely summed up by an inscription.
The rooms also offer a fabulous observation point of the variations of the sky, especially at sunrise. Traditional Japanese style, with all of the comforts of a luxury hotel. Each room is personalized. In the “Zen” room, a contemporary touch is brought out by the blue tatami mats and the dimmed lamps of paintings, painted with calligraphy. Many details of the decor and furniture evoke the interior of a boat cabin.
A traditional breakfast is also served from 8 am in the dining room on the ground floor of the Hoyoso Ryokan. It consists of rice, grilled mackerel, a boiled egg (onsen tamago), a miso soup that can be sprinkled with dried nori seaweed flakes, an assortment of tsukemono, Japanese pickles, and a small umeboshi pickled plum, fried eggplant slivers, salad vegetables, kombu seaweed tsukudani (simmered in a sweet and savory sauce) and sesame tofu (gomadofu). The local flavors of Tara.
It is a good place to sunbathe or rest, facing the sea and the sky. Infinite sources of contemplation, on the terrace that mimics the pontoon of a ship, located just in front of the dining room.
How to Get There?
If you take the train, Hoyoso ryokan is less than a 10-minute drive from Hizen Ohoura Station (JR Nagasaki Line). Upon reservation, the staff can pick you up for free.
If you come by car, parking is available at no extra cost.
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|Address||〒849-1613 Saga Prefecture, Fujitsu District, Tara, 大浦丙1099−5|
|Access||[map]〒849-1613 Saga Prefecture, Fujitsu District, Tara, 大浦丙1099−5[/map]|
|Opening Hours||Check-in 16:00, Check-out 10:00|
|Price Range||About 17,000 yen (dinner and breakfast) / person|
Original article by Alix Durantou