Ultimate self-sufficient TOUJI lifestyle with ONSEN
GOZEN NO YU, HIEKAWA ONSEN, SHIZUOKA Prefecture
I found a website saying like this. “This is a YADO (accommodation) doing natural farming. Doing nothing and taking things as they come. If you don’t want too much, you can feel comfortable in your life. Back in the old days seeking for small happiness.”
This is a TOUJI YADO (TOUJI hotel) which pursues ultimate self-sufficient lifestyle and proposes the way to keep your physical and mental healthier. They are enhancing the lifestyle of self-sufficiency, self-production, non-agrochemical, non-chemical fertilizer, and non-herbicide. Based on this concept, they guarantee the safety of the food they serve. What a deep spot this may be! I have decided to visit this hotel for my first trial of “1 Day Self-catering TOUJI”
Needless to say, ONSEN here is “ONSEN KAKENAGASHI”.
“ONSEN KAKENAGASHI” is the Japanese term which means “free-flowing ONSEN which flows directly from the source”. Although this term is often used in Japan, interpretation differs parson to person and the exact definition of this term is not clear. Therefore, ONSEN fan like me doesn’t rely only on the information if it is ONSEN KAKENAGASHI or not, but check if water is added or not, water is heated or not, water is circulated or not, and water is chlorinated or not.
At the present day in Japan, SENTO (public bath) has to chlorinate its water due to the regulation by the public health center in order to decrease the risk of Legionella pneumophila etc. The chlorinated water is circulated and filtered to eliminate the dirt.
Talking about ONSEN, if it is filtered or if water is added, the precious minerals which ONSEN has will become thinner. Therefore, I personally think that bathing in fresh natural ONSEN without any processes would be the best to fully enjoy the effects of ONSEN. However, on the other hand, it might depend on how they maintain the bath. Even if it is ONSEN KAKENAGASHI of natural fresh ONSEN, there’s no point to bathe in if their hygiene management is bad.
Here “GOZEN NO YU” provides ONSEN which contains sodium, calcium, and sulfate spring, and its water temperature is 62℃. It is a little too hot to bathe in. There are several small-sized bathtubs and this size of bathtubs is good to replace water naturally as people keep bathing in, thus ONSEN here is always kept clean. It is pure natural free-flowing ONSEN from the source without any water added, heated, chemical substances, and you can enjoy ultimate natural ONSEN. The quality of this ONSEN has a good effect for skin diseases, incised wounds, and burn injuries.
In addition, this ONSEN is drinkable so that you can drink ONSEN (which is “INSEN” in Japanese). As ONSEN in Japan has been mainly used for bathing purpose, it is not that common to drink ONSEN in Japan compared to Germany. That is the reason why there’s only limited number of ONSEN you can drink in Japan, and also the public health center has strict regulations for it and drinkable ONSEN which is officially permitted by public health center is rare and precious in Japan. Drinking ONSEN here which contains sodium, calcium, and sulfate is good for hepatobiliary disorder, hypercholesterolemia, and constipation. You can reset and cleanse yourself both physically and mentaly if you bathe in this ONSEN as well as drinking it.
Just 3 hours from Tokyo by bus
If you take express bus “IZU NAGAOKA / SHUZEN JI ONSEN LINER” from Shinjuku, Tokyo, it takes you to SHUZEN JI Station in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. SHUZEN JI is also a very famous ONSEN spot which I will introduce in a separate post later. Transfer to the local bus at this SHUZEN JI Station, then you can reach “SHIMO ONOGUCHI bus stop” in about 30 minutes, and this is where GOZEN NO YU is located. On the way you come here by bus, you can enjoy peaceful and nostalgic scenery of rice field and rivers of rural area. After getting off the bus, you can see the gate of this hotel which really looks “hand-made”.
Passing the gate and walking on dense path in its very wide grounds, you will see KOMINKA (Japanese old traditional house) which seems to have 100 years history. Check in here. The owner welcoming me was an old man who looks like a SEN’NIN (hermit). At a glance he looked a little scary, but he was actually very friendly and kept talking to me about his super naturalist story. He is the man who only pursues what is really needed for human beings.
Relaxing time at the farm till sunset
This hermit guided me around his farm. His farm which is located a few minutes walk distance from his hotel is not a kind of well structured and clean farm, but is overgrown with weeds. Then I found the signboard which says “JOMON SHIKI SHIZEN NOU” (JOMON style natural farming). What is this?
The hermit tells me.
“Japanese word of “Nature” (SHIZEN in Japanese) consists of “SHI” (which means “self” or “by your own”) and “ZEN” (which means “being” or “being as it is”). Thus, SHIZEN means to be as it is. JOMON style natural farming doesn’t use any agrochemical, chemical fertilizer, and herbicide at all because those are the things which have been developed only for the sake of human beings. What I do here is just to sow seeds, then just wait for them to grow naturally with rain and sunshine. Sometimes animals and worms come and bite my tasty vegetables and fruits, that’s why I have a lot of worm-eaten vegetables and fruits here. That’s all there is to it. We human beings can eat it with them. We should not eat everything. We have to share the portion with birds or worms. That is the nature farming.”
I felt like the scales fell from my eyes.
I tried tasting a worn-eaten and discolored strawberry which was fallen on the ground , and actually it was 100 times tastier than the beautiful strawberry sold in supermarket. Seriously.
The hermit kept guiding me around. These are radish seeds, and those are spring onions. Something like this. Living in urban city, I have not had any chance to see what kind of seeds and flowers these vegetables have, how they are planted, and how they grow. It was my first experience to touch those things since I graduated elementary and junior high school.
There’s also a henhouse and a rabbit hutch as well. I parted from this hermit in front of the rabbit hutch.
He said, “Then, I’ll go back to hotel now. You can take and cook whatever the vegetables planted in this farm. You can eat anything here. And, you can eat rabbit as well if you want. Rabbits breed freely and abundantly.”
Surprisingly, this hermit seemed not having these rabbits as his pets, but for foods…
After parted him, I entered the rabbit hutch and a lot of cute rabbits jumped to welcome me. There were several baby rabbits sleeping huddled together in the rice straws. One of these baby rabbits came close to me. How cute she was! I was sure I couldn’t eat them. I spent long time at this rabbit hutch. Although I didn’t have a watch but I thought I spent 1 to 2 hours here.
Now, it’s time to take some vegetables at the farm for my dinner tonight.
To be continued in the Part 2.
Related article: What is TOUJI?