The Izu Peninsula is renowned for bringing together a grand variety of hot springs, seafood, woodland delicacies, beaches and forests in one place. On the eastern side of the peninsula, a mere five-minute walk from Izu Kogen Station, lies the 3,000-tsubo (9,900-sq. m.) area known as Hanafubuki. As you pass through the entrance with traditional wood curtains, you notice four separate lodges with distinctive tastes, and seven hot springs, some of which are private.
Guests are led along the paths to their rooms and, as the shades on the large windows are thrown wide, each is treated to a spectacular sight of pure green. With views like this, it’s easy to spend the entire day gazing into the forest and relaxing in your room.
However, when I arrived, I quickly changed into the yukata (light kimono robes) provided and made my way toward the hot springs. All of the baths are meticulously maintained for guests only who can freely roam among any of the seven.
I opted to enjoy two dips before dinner, one prior to bed and another two the next morning. All of the baths were expansive and provided the perfect backdrop with the murmuring of the water, whispering of the wind and the symphony of birds.
A new twist to the days of old
The owner, Shingo Ichikawa, first discovered the forests of Izu Kogen 30 years ago and was instantly taken with the beauty and nostalgia of the area. Speaking of the origins of Hanafubuki he says, “I wanted to make a getaway enwrapped in the forest where I could recreate my own version of Japan.”
He spends his free time studying the “essence of Japan” by traveling to places such as Kyoto, staying in temples where traditional games are held and studying the country’s culinary delights. He prides himself on respecting the old ways while embracing the “modern Japan.”
His idea of “Japanese service” is represented in the modern kimono worn by the staff, the baskets of live wildflowers, the unique scrolls hanging on the walls and the lanterns and statues of the Goddess of Kannon discreetly placed throughout the property.
Just staying at Hanafubuki makes you nostalgic for the days of old. This, mixed with the friendly staff, explains why 70 percent of their reservations are from repeat customers.
A walk in the woods (and by the sea)
Every morning at 10 a.m. Ichikawa, with his son in tow, leads a group of early risers on a one-kilometer hike to the Jogasaki Coast. The trip takes about one hour, and hikers can enjoy the sights and smells of the forest and the rocky coastline as well as a cup of dandelion tea along the way.
Hanafubuki also holds kouta (short songs) and shamisen (traditional string instrument) classes three days a month. A 1,900-tsubo (6,280-sq. m.) forest of kuromoji (Lindera) trees is located nearby, and Ichikawa hopes to one day provide classes on how to draw oil from the tree leaves. He states, “I hope to have our guests live as one with the blessings of the forest.”
Judging from his ability to turn his dreams into reality, his guests will continue to return to Hanafubuki’s hospitality for many years to come.
The nearest station is Izu Kogen Station on the Izu Express Line, just a 10-minute walk to Hanafubuki. The “Odoriko” train offers direct transit from Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Omiya stations. If you prefer the bullet train, take one to Atami and then transfer to the Izu Express.
Address: Yawatano 1041, Ito City, Shizuoka 413-0232
Tel: (0557) 54-1550