Have you ever dreamed of experiencing the traditional Japanese way of living complete with the serene countryside ambiance and the absence of technology and the city’s bustle?
Finding a traditional inn or hotel in Japanese provinces is now made easy given that establishment owners are only one call away. In fact, many accommodation sites are already open to online reservations for tourists who wish to book their stay in advance.
But if what you’re after is a full-on traditional means of getting a place to stay at, then Tomaya Inn located in Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) will take you back in time by requiring you to reserve a room through postcards!
Yes, you got that right. No advance reservations through phones nor any travel apps, just a plain, handwritten postcard stating your desire to book a room for your visit! Can you imagine that?
As soon as you’ve decided to visit the place whether for pure relaxation or for quenching your curiosity, the first thing to do would be to secure a postcard. You are to send it to the inn and wait for their reply.
Their reply should serve as the receipt of your request. From there, you can send back another card as a confirmation of your arrival at the area on a specified date.
When booking your stay, send a letter or postcard to Tomaya (苫屋) through its address:
Iwate Prefecture, Kunohe District (岩手県九戸郡)
Noda Village, Oaza Noda 5-22 (野田村大字野田 5-22)
Just take note that Tomaya is normally closed starting on the last week of December up to the last week of February. So if you wish to spend some time in the area around spring or summer, might as well send in your postcard ahead of time.
Also, there are cases when the place is already full during your desired schedule. When this happens, you may need to send a second postcard stating your alternative dates of stay.
If there’s one word that would perfectly describe the place’s appearance, it would be “rustic.” From the inn’s entrance up to its interior, you’ll be treated to a simple and minimalist residence that features the most basic necessities you’ll need for your stay and does away with the luxuries you’re used to in the city.
Thus, you shouldn’t expect to catch some late night shows on TV or update your status on Facebook or Twitter. Rooms at Tomaya don’t have any television sets nor do they give you any Wi-Fi access. In short, you’re totally given the opportunity to experience a life prior to the digital age.
Electric heaters and modern-day fireplaces are highly popular in a lot of Japanese hotels and inns. After all, for a country characterized by cold weather, having a convenient heater to warm you up makes your stay more comfortable.
One thing that Tomaya prides itself on is the presence of the traditional Japanese irori fireplace which has been used decades ago by the original settlers of the area. Here, guests could boil water or grill meat while enjoying a hot cup of tea beside the fireplace.
Apart from the calm and solitude that Tomaya promises, you’ll also get the assurance that the food served are cooked from fresh ingredients straight from their own farm. The owners of the inn grow the fruits and vegetables themselves.
They also pride on their process of sticking to natural means of planting vegetables rather than adding pesticides, which may have some negative effects on the taste or health of the people eating the food.
After dinner, guests will be treated to a surreal view of an evening without the typical colorful city lights. If you want, you can even start viewing the clear skyline during sunset! The combined treat of nature’s silence and the waning sunlight can both be romantic and magical depending on your mood!
For anyone who has spent his or her entire life in the city, the idea of spending a day or two without an Internet connection or even just access to local television may seem impossible. After all, how else could you best connect with your loved ones than by using mobile phones and social media sites?
Tomaya’s unique way of reservation is not just to tug on the curiosity of tourists but also to encourage personal interaction. The act of using postcards and writing a personalized message and request is more personal than those mobile-generated options you see when using reservation apps online.
Also, given that you can’t use mobile phones or the Internet around the area, guests will have to personally interact with the locals in case they get lost on their way and need help for directions.
Instead of checking the latest city news through your phone first thing in the morning, the absence of mobile and an Internet connection in the area encourage guests to go out and explore the countryside, interact with the locals, and appreciate the untainted beauty of nature.
This grass-roots way of finding a location makes one’s stay in Tomaya not only peaceful and serene but also an adventure and a chance to meet new people!
Apart from the ones we’ve already mentioned, it would help if you keep in mind a few more basic information:
- Tomaya Inn only has 3 available rooms and is operated by a couple. This means that the earlier you book your stay, the higher the chance of getting a room on your desired dates.
- There is an available parking lot.
- The rate per night amounts to 6,000 yen per person including breakfast and dinner. During the winter season, rates could go up to 6,500 yen for the additional heating expense. These rates already include tax.
- A 600-yen fee will be added when you want to use a yukata and another 300 yen for a bath towel. Cleaning or maintenance is also charged separately.
Spending some quiet time by yourself or with your loved ones can be a great way to spend your next holiday or vacation. Go traditional and experience the simple, unfashionable way of living away from technology and modernity.
Tomaya Inn Website *Japanese only