Surrounded by a 100-year old forest, Nishiawakura village is found at the northeast tip of Okayama prefecture. A place where the inhabitants interact with nature, the village is so comfortable it makes people shine. The village is putting effort into its Hundred Year Forest Plan reforestation operations.
They say it takes 50 years for a newly planted tree to grow into shippable timber. Without forgetting the forest planted 50 years ago, they are again working to leave a beautiful forest behind 50 years in the future. This is the Hundred Year Forest Plan.
It’s a place at which during summer you can enjoy forest-bathing and observing insects, and in winter you can enjoy winter sports at a ski area with superior quality snow.
Praised for its high water quality, Awakura Onsen Motoyu is the only radium hot spring in the Chugoku region. Though it went out of business one time in 2011, in 2015 the village requested the Sonraku Energy Co., Ltd., a local venture company based in Nishiawakura, to run the facility, and Motoyu was revived.
With its lovely aroma filling the air making you feel like you’re in the forest, the renovated interior of the hotel includes lots of Nishiawakura cedar and hinoki cypress timber.
The hotel has only one type of indoor bath, but it's top quality. Indeed it’s so good that the proprietress of the hotel says that she no longer needs to use foundation cream!
By the way, the unique bath buckets and stools, custom made by Mokkoubo Youbi, a local carpentry company, are exclusive to Motoyu.
In addition to day trips to the hot spring being possible, the facilities include a café with superb sweets and drinks! Visitors can enjoy some refined time in the café, together with the hot spring.
The main business of the company that runs Motoyu, Sonraku Energy Co., Ltd., is popularizing the use of biomass. Rice cooked at the hotel is cooked over fire, the wood for which comes from the village, naturally.
At the time this article was written, the hot spring facility itself was scheduled to be warmed via firewood (by December 2015). With abundant natural energy nearby, this cozy hot spring facility is also a social place.
It's a lively spot where people gather daily; villagers, new habitants, travellers and all kinds of people come and go, and use it as a place for interaction.
You too can enjoy the hot spring, some refined time in the café, and even stay at the guest house while interacting with the people of Nishiawakura village. It's a place we definitely recommend visiting if you’re in the area or planning to be.
Awakura Onsen Motoyu
Location: 2050 Kageishi, Nishiawakura village, Aida district, Okayama prefecture
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers: Asami Asai & Katsutoshi Asai (Kokohore Japan)
Katsutoshi Asai Producer and member of the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association. Born in Yokohama in 1974, Katsutoshi is married and has a young son. Although he started his career with an advertising agency, he went to join the Tower Records team. Katsutoshi was involved with brand management, sales campaigns, collaboration work, and live events. Through his career, he experienced being the Sales Promotion Manager, and the Manager of the Live Entertainment Department. However, in 2012, Katsuyoshi retired from Tower Records and moved to Seto city, Okayama prefecture - a place where he had no prior friends, connections or relatives. Soon after moving, he joined the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association, and in July 2013 founded Kokohore Japan and began a number of projects to re-task old traditional buildings, invent new specialty products, and work on regional branding. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/ Asami Asai Editor & Writer I mainly write about social news, music, and lifestyles. I was born and raised in Tokyo, but in 2012 I decided on a whim to move to Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture. I contribute to magazines such as Liniere, Inakagurashi no Hon, and ku:nel. I publish books for my 'interesting' friends, too, and direct and write for programs at FM Okayama. Everyday I write about people and things for both readers and listeners. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/
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