Shirakawa-go : Minshuku Hisamatsu (久松)

Hisamatsu - Exterior

23rd - 24th December 2012.
Shirakawa-go, Japan.
Recommended by Paul Travels, we found our way to Minshuku Hisamatsu, a century old gassho zukuri that was painstakingly maintained by at least 3 generations. Things probably have changed since Paul last visited Hisamatsu, the lady proprietor could speak some English now.

Hisamatsu - Room

The old minka is rather small with only 4 rooms separated only by means of a shoji screens and doors and as described in Paul’s blog, one could hear the discussion and sweet talk clearly from each room. The rooms are all traditional Japanese rooms and you are expected to sleep on futons which the owner would meticulously prepare for you during dinner time.

Hisamatsu - Bed

In winter time, there will be a gas heater provided and a table warmer (we couldn’t get out of the table warmer, it felt some warm and fuzzy). Yukatas are also provided for you to wear during dinner time and if you love hot springs, they provide discounted fee to a hotspring nearby.

Hisamatsu - Hearth

Dinner was served in a common room with an irori (hearth) in the center of the room. An elderly lady sat next to irori and to monitor the fire and chat with the guests. During our stay there was a couple from Hokkaido and Hong Kong. They seemed very surprised to find students staying at their minshuku.

Hisamatsu - Hearth

Dinner was a hot pot meal, perfect for a cold winter. Beautifully marbled Hida beef slices were served in a ceramic paper hot pot with carrots, tofu, mushrooms and cabbage etc. The meal also includes tempura of mountain vegetables, an array of pickled vegetables and a river fish served with rice and miso soup.

Hisamatsu - Dinner
Hisamatsu - Dinner

Everyone gathered at the hearth for dinner.

Hisamatsu - Dinner
Hisamatsu - Dinner
Hisamatsu - Dinner
Hisamatsu - Dinner

Overall it was delightful meal with a touch of home to it. The cuisine was down to earth compared to the exquisite kaiseki in Kyoto. This was a meal that I enjoyed a lot. It was simple but everything seemed flawless. Perfectly cooked rice, a soothing hot pot soup with tender and tasty Hida beef, an interesting mix of tsukemono, refreshing apple and yuzu salad as well as a burst in your mouth ume. It was simply divine.

Hisamatsu - Dinner

After a long dinner, I took a bath in their traditional wooden baths filled with hot (not burning) water. The calming scent of the cedar/hinoki and the soothing warm water has a nice calming effect. It was one of those few moments where I found myself finally relaxed, guiding 3 boys around for the whole trip for past few days (a pair of them almost got lost and had me worried sick), it had been an extremely tense journey.

Hisamatsu - Hearth

One thing I regret not doing at Shirakawa-go however was to head out for some star-gazing, the area around Shirakawa-go is pretty dark as the lighting period has not commenced and for a village in such an “ulu” place, this would have been the best place to see skies filled with stars. On the other hand, I had a rare proper sleep.

Hisamatsu - Breakfast
Hisamatsu - Breakfast
Hisamatsu - Breakfast

Breakfast was mix of Japanese and Western, probably due to the influx of ang moh tourists over the years. They prepared scrambled eggs with tomato ketchup, bread, tsukemono, miso soup and some vegetables grilled on magnolia leaf with hoba miso. The hoba miso is very addictive. The sweet and savoury miso paste seemed to go well with both bread and rice. I decided to buy a pack of them back from a shop nearby after breakfast.

Shirakawa-go

When you visit Shirakawa-go don’t just go for a day trip, you will be missing out a lot from staying overnight in one of these minka and you will miss the mornings when Shirakawa-go is almost devoid of tourists, which is the best time to go sightsee around the village.


Minshuku Hisamatsu
I booked our guesthouse through Japanese Guesthouses, a website that helps you book lodgings in guesthouses around Japan.

10 comments:

  1. Hi, thanks for this very informative post. Understand that you booked thru Japanese Guesthouses, may I ask how long it took for them to reply your booking enquiry? Thanks - Lee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      They replied quite promptly actually either the next day or within the same week.

      Delete
  2. Hi,

    Thank you for your post and lovely photos. May I know how months in advance did you book before your trip in order to secure a room? Thanks! I'm planning to go early November this year during the autumn season :)

    Lydia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lydia, we booked about 2 months beforehand,not sure if early November is considered a high season, but Shirakawago is pretty popular and some guesthouses get booked out pretty fast, so its advisable to book early. Hisamatsu wasn't our original choice, it was because Koemon had been fully booked, but it had been a great stay nonetheless

      Delete
  3. may I know the price per person

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 8,476 Yen per pax during winter with breakfast and dinner.

      Delete
  4. you think with kids 1 nite at Shirakawago is more fun or a day trip would be enough? like to have your advise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmmm personally I recommend staying there for a night and you get to enjoy the good in a communal setting in some of the minshuku and you also get to experience Shirakawa-go when the tourists or crowd are gone in the late evening and morning the next day.

      It could be done as a stop-over on the way to Kanazawa.

      Delete
  5. Enjoy your blog very much.
    May I know how are the toilet facilities in this minshuku? tia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry for the late reply! Yeap there are toilet facilities ;)

      Delete

 

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