When a young Japanese decides to fight the rural exodus by betting everything on sharing and ecotourism.
Located in Mie prefecture (三重 県), in Tsu commune (津市), the small village of Misugi (美 杉) unfortunately suffered the same fate as many towns and villages in the Japanese countryside: a number of its inhabitants, due to a massive rural exodus and the aging of the population. In a few years, its population has grown from 10,000 to 4,500 inhabitants.
However, a young entrepreneur of 35 years, Youki Nakagawa, descendant of a hotel family and himself boss of the family Ryokan Hinotani Onsen Misugi Resort, is resisting and pushing the village to bet everything on ecotourism: forest therapy, local food, maintenance of the local flora and fauna, everything is good to sustainably promote the typical Japanese beauty of this region whose isolation makes encounters with locals more intense and more authentic.
“Be the change you want to see in the world. “
To give the inhabitants of Misugi the desire to embark on such a project, what better than to set an example?
In his hotel, sashimi and seasonal vegetables (autumn) are produced within a radius of 50km from the establishment
Matsusaka beef, lobster sashimi and deer tempura, from local breeding, fishing and hunting.
A menu changed daily according to arrivals, consisting only of local products … not to mention beer!
Hinotani Onsen Misugi Resort has indeed bought a brewery on land located 500m from their establishment, and has decided to incorporate barley produced in Misugi itself.
And when a young boss runs a brewery in his spare time, there’s no shortage of ideas.
The hotel has a wonderful onsen but why limit yourself to that when you can have another with beer!
And then finally why not continue in his room and enjoy unlimited beer?
You will notice the deer antlers, many in the area, but also the materials used from the surrounding forests
One of the cottages scattered around the land around the main building, to stay as close as possible to the surrounding nature.
In order to revive his village, Youki believes that the recipe for success is not based only on innovative ideas but also on the involvement of locals, because he understood that foreign tourists wanted above all to discover Japan through his inhabitants.
Real economic engine of the village thanks to its hotel, Youki wants to make its establishment a reception area allowing anyone wishing to visit the region to find happiness. This is how Inaka Tourism was born.
Do you want to meet locals?
Why not spend some time with the village lumberjacks who will tell you about the necessity of their work? Why not take the opportunity to get your hands dirty?
Or maybe you prefer to be invited to a tea ceremony at a village grandmother’s house and to taste delicious Japanese sweets?
Why not take the opportunity to discover the cuisine of the traditional shop in the village where they make it?
Take the time to discover ancestral craft techniques.
For an even more total immersion, why not opt for a guest house?
In an effort to revitalize the area, the ryokan, for example, helps local guesthouses by sending them clients and providing them with free amenities such as yukata, towels and linens for optimal comfort.
“Astonishing to send the clients of his hotel to someone else’s place to sleep” you might say. Not for the manager who has above all a global vision for the future of his village and wants to involve as many people as possible.
Come on, take a quick look around!
The slightest outing by bike in the village and its surroundings gives the impression of stepping back in time with a slight scent of Urbex… A delight.
One of the stations in the village. Châtelet-les-Halles is no match for it!
The local TGV.
How do you know if you are deep in Japan?
Just look at the number of buses that pass in the village (yes it is better not to miss it otherwise you will sleep in the trees)
Studio Ghibli fans will appreciate
While one might think that spending several days in such a secluded place might be boring, it is not.
We discover ourselves to appreciate the little things in life, to get back to basics. A new way of discovering Japan, deeply human.
A destination that we can only recommend.
Hinotani Onsen Misugi Resort
Yachi-5990 Misugicho Tsu, Mie 515-3421