Yamamizuki Urara Tsutaya, Kiso-Fukushima

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Possessing breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, and in a can’t-miss-it location, just across the street from the quaint train station, the Tsutaya is an ideal rest stop for Kiso Valley adventurers.  With conservative yet comfortable rooms, complete with futon beds on tatami-matted floors, getting a sound night’s sleep is a given.  For those not accustomed to sleeping so close to the floor, some of the rooms are equipped with Western beds without forfeiting their beautiful Japanese interior décor.

Your included evening meal will simply bowl you over – an astounding mix of local ingredients and seasonal specialities, served to you in a seemingly non-stop procession of miniature courses.  The hosts go out of their way to explain what each element is, and this is a great way to try authentic Japanese cuisine that might otherwise have escaped your attention.  Breakfast is similarly traditional and delicious, with bento boxes of tasty morsels – so don’t expect any Western-fare, and start your mornings as the locals do.

After a long day of hiking, sightseeing, or simply riding the rails from your previous destination, nothing beats a soak in a glorious hot-spring onsen bath.  Some rooms boast their own semi-open air wooden tubs, and the public baths get spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.  The calcium and bicarbonate-rich waters are said to be perfect for those with sensitive skin or fatigued muscles – and who are we to argue with that formula?



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