Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo: tradition & tranquility

23 Feb 2018 in In immersion

Journey to a haven in western Honshu where hot springs and sake-making have a long history.

bath

The recurring question you’ll be asking yourself at Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo is: “how will I relax next?”.

Should you head to the public onsen, whose waters are known as the “hot spring of the Gods” because they work wonders on the skin? Or maybe you’d prefer to soothe your muscles and mind in your own private hot spring bath on your outdoor terrace?

Terrace onsen bath

Exterior terrace hotel

Then again, you could sit back in one of the reclining massage chairs facing the resort’s bamboo garden. Or how about catching a performance of traditional Japanese arts in the garden?

Traditions and dance in Japan

Artistic project

At Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo, relaxation and rejuvenation are the resort’s raison d’être. But there’s also plenty of opportunities for activity and exploration. The local area is home to several must-see sights, including Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s most celebrated shrines, the towering Matsue castle, and the Adachi Museum, famed for its art and fabulous Japanese gardens.

Izumo temple

Situated in Shimane Prefecture in the south-west of Honshu, the resort is also at the centre of one of Japan’s most famed sake-producing regions.

Paddy fields

Paddy fields line the roads here and stretch up into the hills, where traditional thatched houses are a reminder of the area’s rural roots.

 

Ryokan repose

When you first arrive at Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo, you’ll be guided over a traditional red moon bridge, passing over a Japanese garden with coy carp in the pond – yet you’ll remain indoors the whole time.

Hotel room in Izumo

The bridge, which dates back to the ryokan’s origins 80 years ago, has been clad in a wood-and-glass structure, keeping you inside the complex while offering views as if you were outside.

Japanese garden

On entering your room, take off your shoes at the genkan. Then step onto the traditional tatami mats of your room.

Ryokan in Japan

In traditional ryokan style, you’ll find a low table and chair but no bed. Not to worry: staff will lay out your futon when you’re at dinner.

Many rooms also have a kotatsu heated table – perfect for snuggling under in the cooler months.

Bedroom in Japan

Your other option for heating up without leaving your room?

Your private hot spring bath!

If you’re on the first floor, pull apart the sliding doors on the far side to reveal your own garden with a covered decking area. On the decking is a square-shaped cypress tub, from which whispers of steam rise into the air, tempting you into its 40C waters.

Onsen in Japan

On the second floor, the tubs are rounded and crafted in beautiful shigaraki-yaki ceramic tiles.

 

Long-celebrated serenity

Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo is set in Tamatsukuri, a hot springs area established well over 1000 years ago and known for its waters’ rejuvenating effects on the skin.

Bathtub in Japan

In addition to your private tub, you can test their powers in the ryokan’s public onsen, featuring both indoor and outdoor pools.

Exterior hot bath

Relaxation spot

Outside the onsen is a relaxation area, where you can make yourself a rejuvenating sake-based facemask or sit back in one of the leather massage chairs and choose a program to match your mood.

 

Fresh lake seafood

Dinner is a multi-course kaiseki menu filled with local delicacies.

Japanese seafood

The large expanse of nearby Lake Shinji provides plenty of treats, including its famed tiny clams – a luxurious addition to your miso soup – as well as tender sea bass and blackthroat seaperch.

Making soup

In winter, though, the speciality is locally-caught Matsuba snow crab – a much-prized treat thanks to its succulent meat.

Crab recipe in Japan

After dinner, how about a nightcap at the Sake Bar? With 36 varieties to choose from, all produced in Shimane Prefecture, you’re sure to find something to your taste.

Sake products

The three-glass taster menu is a great introduction to the local tipple, famed throughout Japan for its exceptional quality.

 

Performance arts

Another historical tradition in Izumo is kagura, a stylized, light-hearted form of Japanese theatre. Every night, the ryokan puts on a 15-minute show featuring a sake-fuelled confrontation between a god and an eight-headed serpent. It’s a huge amount of fun, with colourful costumes, extravagant gestures and energetic acting making for an immersive experience.

Ancient art in Asia

You can also catch a short kamishibai performance every night. While the storytelling is in Japanese, you’ll be offered a crib sheet in English – and the picture cards will help you keep track of the story.

Another bonus is the ryokan’s traditional tatami tea room, featuring an irori sunken hearth. For no extra charge, a tea ceremony expert will instruct you in the art of making the perfect cup of matcha.

Tea ceremony process

Tea ceremony in Japan

With so much on offer at your doorstep, it may be tempting to leave sightseeing to later. But make sure you visit the grandiose Izumo Taisha shrine, prized throughout Japan as a place to seek good fortune in love and marriage.

Izumo temple of love and money

And once you’ve secured your future happiness at the shrine, you can head back to the ryokan to indulge your current state of wellbeing.

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