26 Dec 2019 in Food Culture
Want to be as eco-friendly as possible when you travel in Japan? Discover 6 sustainable solutions!
Looking for an agritourism stay in Japan? A hotel that embraces the local community and culture? Or a self-sustaining resort that respects the environment? At Hoshino Resorts, our ryokans have always been built in harmony with nature and in collaboration with the locals.
Here are 6 reasons why you can have peace of mind when you stay with us.
1 – Powered by mountain rivers
When our first resort opened in Karuizawa back in 1915, it was already generating hydropower using a wooden water wheel.
That same site has since become HOSHINOYA Karuizawa, our luxury eco-resort in the foothills of the Japanese Alps – and it’s still creating its own energy through water!
Inspired by the Energy In My Yard (EIMY) model, we have built two HEP stations on site to harness the natural power of the mountain river that flows through the ryokan’s gardens.
This energy is supplemented by geothermal energy from the local hot springs. Together, these two sources allow HOSHINOYA Karuizawa to be 70% self-sufficient in energy.
2 – Farm Hoshino
Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Tomamu in Hokkaido is a leading ski resort – but it’s also a farm. The grassy expanses within the resort were once used to graze cows, sheep, goats and horses – and the tradition has recently been revived with Farm Hoshino.
This small farm specializes in dairy products, with fresh milk served at the buffet restaurant. The farm also crafts its own ice cream and butter.
What better way to enjoy farm-to-table?
3 – Eco-tours in a wildlife sanctuary
HOSHINOYA Karuizawa is set among forested hills beneath the famed Mt. Asama volcano. Just opposite the resort, wildlife organization Picchio offers an extensive range of eco-tourism experiences, including a chance to spot the native mountain serow or glimpse the Japanese flying squirrel.
Picchio is a long-time partner of Hoshino Resorts and, as well as organizing ecotours, it has an active role in protecting and conserving wildlife. The national bird sanctuary beside HOSHINOYA Karuizawa is home to 80 species of birds, including the native Japanese Green Woodpecker and Copper pheasant.
Picchio also runs a protection program for the Asian black bear, which roams this part of Honshu. To promote the safe coexistence of bears and humans, the wildlife team captures bears that venture near town and tags them with a radio-collar so their movements can be tracked. Specially-trained dogs then chase off the bears with loud barking to dissuade them from returning.
The idea is to reduce potential conflict between bears and humans.
4 – Targeting zero waste
When you stay with us, you’ll find very little single-use plastic. Individually-packaged toiletries have been replaced by pump bottles filled with high-quality body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
Bottled water is being phased out in favour of water coolers. And we now recycle all discarded toothbrushes. Back in 2011, our flagship resort HOSHINOYA Karuizawa managed to achieve zero emissions. That’s the aim for all our properties.
5 – Preserving agricultural traditions
On a tiny island in Okinawa, HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island is reviving ancient agricultural practices. From the outset, the resort was designed in respect of local traditions, with the private villas all featuring wooden walls and red-tile roofing.
Since 2017, the resort has cultivated its own vegetable garden. By consulting the older generation of islanders, it is keeping alive traditional farming methods, producing rows of Taketomi potato, foxtail millet and the local soybean kumomami.
The harvest is then used as ingredients to create locally-inspired dishes in the resort’s restaurant.
6 – Japan’s first agritourism resort
In November 2019, Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Nasu opened as Japan’s first agritourism resort. Set in the foothills of the Nasu mountains, the hotel is surrounded by mountain streams, thick forests and flooded paddy fields.
During your stay, you’ll be able to tend to and pick produce from the surrounding land. You can sign up for hands-on workshops that will take you into the greenhouses and fields to learn about seasonal herbs and crops.
Or how about making your own pizza with fresh vegetables and baking it in a stone oven?
Of course, the restaurant uses seasonally, locally-sourced produce from Tochigi Prefecture, known nationwide for its rice, vegetables, strawberries and mushrooms.
Photo credits : Piccio