Stay!By Mitsuko Totani
Hometown Hospitality and Homegrown Art
Although it's just a few hours from downtown Tokyo, Sankousou lies deep within the highlands of Mt. Mitake in the Okutama area. While its exterior may be quite ordinary, guests open the front door to find an interior filled with so much folk art and local crafts patrons often forget it’s a long walk to civilization. This retro atmosphere has been well received, drawing a large following of foreigners from Yokota Air Base nearby.
Sankousou prides itself on a prosperous lodging history dating back to the Edo Period, and its owner, Iori Suzuki (34), is the 19th generation of a lineage of priests at the local Miyake Shrine. He, his wife Miyuki, and mother Kaoru are all delightful characters and make a stay at Sankousou feel as if you’re visiting country relatives.
The matriarch of the family, Kaoru, makes all the meals by hand, with bamboo shoots, butterbur and cod sprouts highlighting the springtime menu. Handpicked mountain herbs and vegetables are battered and fried for a light and tasty tempura. However, the real treat of this sumptuous showcase is the homemade konyaku made from freshly grated, farm-raised sweet potatoes.
“Add just a splash of soy sauce to really bring out the true essence of the konyaku,” Kaoru kindly advises me, as I take in a bite-sized morsel. I am surprised to find the feel and taste similar to fresh whitefish served raw.
After taking in the beauty of the hotel, I follow Iori for a stroll to the Mitake Shrine where he practices kagura, a traditional Shinto dance in which participants wear masks and costumes. Iori’s performance is quite dignified, and the sight of Japanese culture being passed through the ages brings a smile to my face.
“We all have a passion for talking with patrons,” exclaimed the family of Sankousou, whose location boasts a daytime view of the entire Kanto Plain and a nighttime sky to boast.
Unfortunately, my time at the hotel was overcast with springtime mist, giving me one more reason to come back for the first buds of spring. Thoughts of my next visit rose in my mind even as I shouldered my pack full of konyaku gifts and descended the mountains at twilight.
Train: From Shinjuku, take the Chuo Line to Tachikawa, and then change to the Ome Line for Mitake Station. (92 minutes, ¥890). From here, take the bus to the cable car station (it’s the last stop) and then take the cable car up to Mitake-san. From there it is a 20-minute walk to Sankousou toward Mitake Shrine. From the base of the cable car to Sankousou by foot takes approximately one hour.
Car: Exit the Ome Highway onto the Yoshino Highway and make a left at O-torii just past Mitake Station. Parking is available at Takimoto Station on the cable car line.
Address: 198-0175 Tokyo, Ome City, Mitake-san 137
Tel: (0428) 78-8476 Fax: (0428) 78-9435
Details: One night with two meals in the dining area from ¥9,800 or ¥11,000. Enjoy browsing the souvenir shop with many crafts.