Hanafubuki Ryokan is a super nice place to stay on the coast of the Izu peninsula. Izu is a beach and mountain paradise for hikers and surfers located about 30 minutes by bullet train west of Tokyo. Take a local train further down the east side of the peninsula for some of the more secluded, premium accommodation options, like Hanafubuki. I photographed this wonderful hot spring hideaway for 1843, the Economist’s lifestyle magazine last year.
Hanafubuki is not a single big hotel building, it’s rather a collection of smaller cottages linked together via wooden walkways. Its open air plan and proximity to the forests make it a great place to recharge after a grueling spell in the city. The air is beautiful, crisp and filled only with the sounds of nature, and there are some short forest walks adjoining the property that allows you to do some shinrinyoku, or ‘forest bathing’, which is a fancy way of saying you can sit by yourself in the unspoiled tranquility of nature for a bit. Don’t knock it until you try it though!
The crown jewel in this amazing ryokan’s list of features however, is most definitely the seven separate open air baths scattered throughout the property. Each bath is distinct in its own way and best of all, they are all private, meaning you don’t have to share your precious bathing time with other patrons. Shy bathers rejoice! In my time there I was lucky enough to go around to all of them to photograph them, and even managed to take a dip in two. Marvelous!
In addition to the ryokan, the coast of the Izu peninsula is a mere five minutes walk away, and if you want to really do some forest bathing, wake up at 5am to get down there for the sunrise. It’s worth it (although it won’t feel that way at first).
I also took my newly acquired drone down there to capture the coast from above, and the landscape was absolutely stunning. A must for hikers, anglers and off-road cyclists.
Overall, my time spent at Hanafubuki Ryokan really left me with a warm feeling that Japan’s under-appreciated regional areas are extremely deserving of multiple trips. Check out their website here if you want to visit.