At this luxury Hoshino Resort, highlights include private onsen baths and traditional timber rooms
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The Tamatsukuri onsen lies just off the southern shores of Lake Shinji; it’s an ancient hot spring where gods are said to bathe once a year. And, set on the banks of a narrow river, KAI Izumo enjoys an enviable location. In spring the riverside erupts in gaudy cherry blossom and in summer it is lit with bamboo lights. It’s also an area steeped in heritage with tea ceremonies and traditional pottery techniques still practised. The nearest city is pretty Matsue where you’ll find samurai houses and medieval castles positioned between canals and lakes.
Taking full advantage of their location, all rooms feature private, open-air onsen baths where you can enjoy a heated soak in the ryokan’s manicured grounds. Back inside, choose between sofas or floor-level furnishing carefully positioned on tatami mats. There are even sunken kotatsu seating areas complete with attached blankets where soft cushions are arranged around a central table; they’re perfect for snuggling up in the provided yukata hemp dressing gowns. And, whether it’s white porcelain, locally blown glass or intricate woodcraft, there’s evidence of fine Japanese craftsmanship throughout. The seasonal flower arrangements and hanging Kansai scrolls round off the traditional aesthetic.
At KAI Izumo, a full range of kaiseki meals are on offer where each selection of multi-course dishes are arranged around a theme. In spring, shabu shabu cuts of thinly sliced meats are complemented by freshwater clams and delicately spiced shrimp while summer sees rock oyster and white crabs come into season. Guests arriving in autumn and winter will then be treated to the region’s speciality – snow crab. Best found in depths of up to 2,500 metres, its juicy flesh is characteristically sweet in taste while the steaming process imparts cedar aromas. Side dishes of crisp, locally sourced vegetables are ideal palate cleansers.
Thanks to its legends, the Tamtasukuri onsens are sometimes known as the ‘hot water of God’ – sometimes translations aren’t quite as poetical as the original. However, there’s plenty to preach about with KAI Izumo’s baths with the indoor offering surrounded by garden views and its outside, waterfall-fed counterpart ringed by rocks. Of course, you might just want to retire to your private bath – made out of either cypress wood or Shigaraki ceramic – or take advantage of the spa treatments on offer. For the latter, be sure to enquire ahead as availability is limited.
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Flight offer – Save up to £205 pp
Book by: 31 January 2019
This curated rail journey brings you on bullet-train sprints between Japan’s rich past, taking in ancient castle towns and tea ceremonies in Kyoto. You’ll also enjoy private, tailor-made tours everywhere from Tokyo to Hiroshima as you stay in luxury hotels and traditional ryokan inns.
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