Winter in Japan offers many delights - skiing, skating and other winter sports, as well as the beauty of the glistening snow, fresh surroundings and pure air. This season holds another, more timeless pleasure - fuyugomori, the pleasure of being cozy and warm as the chill wintry winds howl outside. The word hearkens back to olden times, when Japanese families would huddle around the irori charcoal heater, protected from the weather and snug in the familial warmth, spending the long winter hours in quiet contemplation and companionship.
The best way to experience these quiet pleasures is at a fine ryokan, amid a beautiful landscape and ancient traditions of omotenashi, the ancient Japanese art of hospitality. These three Ryokan Collection members are particularly adept at showing their guests the delights of fuyugomori.
The sight of the lovely Wanosato ryokan's quaint 160-year-old minka traditional houses with their majestic thatched roofs, welcomes the visitor to an experience straight out of ancient Japan. The minka were brought here from Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO heritage site. With their gassho-zukuri (praying hands) style roofs, they express age-old grace and unique charm, and together with the hearty local cuisine, they deliver a delightful fuyugomori experience.
One of the great pleasures of winter in Japan is onsen hot springs, and the lovely Kifu no Sato ryokan provides them in abundance. Nestled in the mountains of Okayama Prefecture near the ancient Yunogo Onsen, the place is a winter paradise. Soaking peacefully in a rotemburo outdoor bath after a dinner of wild boar stew, amid the snow glistening in the moonlight: This is true fuyugomori.
Tucked away in the mountains of Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, Bettei Otozure ushers its guests into a world of quiet and tradition. The hushed swish of slippered feet on tatami mats inside, along with the ryokan's steaming outdoor baths and spa treatments help its guests ease into the tranquil Otozure pace of life. Another feature that helps conjure the feeling of wintry seclusion: the snowy mountainsides visible outside the rooms' floor-to-ceiling windows.
To really understand fuyugomori, of course, you must experience it for yourself, preferably in a place that serves it up with expertly and with friendly sincerity. These Ryokan Collection members, with their gorgeous locations, exquisite settings and premium omotenashi hospitality, will show you the quiet, cozy delights of winter in Japan.
Twice a year, in March and September, Kateigaho International Japan Edition brings you the latest on off-the-beaten-track travel destinations, new and inspiring traditions, modern lifestyle ideas, and gastronomic culture. Subscribe or order a gift subscription for your family and friends to discover new perspectives on Japan. The current issue, Autumn/Winter 2017, features a contemporary look at Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto; netsuke and obidome accessories; Shizuoka: The Home of Green Tea; and purifying New Year decorations. These and other interesting insights into Japanese culture await you in Kateigaho International.