Nestled amongst tree-lined streets in the foothills of the surrounding mountains, it’s hard to believe that Iwakura Onsen is technically still in Tokyo. Located in Ome, only one and a half hours by train and bus from Shinjuku Station, the ryokan (Japanese hotel) has a long history as a hot spring destination famous for its healing waters. Recently, the city saw a surge of artists relocate to the area and farmers, such as the organic group “Tokyo Neo-Farmers!”. This is quickly transforming Ome into a more vibrant city, but one that still retains its rural charm — the perfect place for a short weekend break in the capital.
There’s even more reason to visit Ome in the next coming months, as Iwakura Onsen prepares for a series of weekends organized in collaboration with local artsits, chefs, farmers and Zen temples. Visitors can either enjoy a day trip or an overnight stay and attend various workshops, hikes, art exhibitions and yoga and meditation sessions. Each weekend includes dining at the beautiful outdoor restaurant where gourmet meets organic and join a tour around Hanjo Farm, but the workshops will vary. For guests staying over the weekend, the morning also includes breakfast and a refreshing Zen meditation session, plus there’s plenty to explore in your free time walking around the town, temples and nature.
“Taste of the forest and mountain” October 19 – 20, 2019
“Colors of nature” November 16 – 17, 2019
“Warmth” January 25 – 26, 2020
“Breath of spring” February 22 – 23, 2020
Keep an eye on the ryokan’s website for latest details, but the first two weekends’ schedules are now published:
October 19 – 20
First up on the experience series is “Taste of the forest and mountain,” where the focus is to engage with nature through all your senses. The art exhibition will feature work capturing Japan’s seasonal changes by an American ink artist, Cole Norton. Reserve a place in the workshop to taste local sake made from mountain water paired with a seasonal appetizer. The reading day at the Zen temple will be a chance to indulge in your favorite book in the ultimate calm space.
November 16 – 17
“Colors of nature” follows in November as the fall leaves burn gold and red. Yo Kanno’s rich textiles in “Colors of Euro Asia” will be the art exhibition’s focus and there’ll also be a pop-up store to purchase your favorite pieces. Hike through autumnal nature on a guided tour along the Kasumi Kyuryo Hill Hiking Course and capture the colors of nature in a painting workshop.
As ever-more tourists flock to Tokyo as the tourism industry continues to grow and huge events like the Rugby World Cup fill the city’s calendar, why not turn your attention towards rural areas for a relaxing break? Iwakura Onsen is perfect for a much needed breath of calm and moment to yourself, surrounded by peace, art and nature, without having to travel too far from the bustling capital.