Top Story: 18.January 2006
Life's a blessing of nature for ryokan professional
Kashiwaya Ryokan Japanese Onsen Resort is located 150Km north from Tokyo, in Gunma prefecture. Kashiwaya Ryokan is located next to Shima Spa, which is one of the most famous spa's in Japan. Famous guests like Yasunari Kawabata have visited here.
I had lucky chance to make interview of Mr. Masuo Kashiwabara, manager of Kashiwaya Ryokan. He was born 1961 and lived his childhood in vicinity of Shima Onsen. He has a gentle and nature-loving character, but is precise with his answers. He remembers each of his visitors and takes care of each one of them with special care. He has a sharp intellect of ex engineer of NISSAN and SUBARU, and his technical solutions have been used through years in these cars. He retired 8 years ago and returned back to his home and children.
Nowadays Mr. Kashiwabara wakes up at six a clock everyday to have breakfast with his wife, son (15) and daughter (10). Then he goes to ryokan by foot, which is located near his house. Before, he used to wake up even more early since he had to take care of preparing breakfast for the guests, but now added staff take care of that.
Q1. Your Ryokan is one of the most famous in Japan. What makes the true spirit of traditional Japanese ryokan?
A1. I think Japanese ryokan is one of the place that keeping good old-fashioned Japanese culture. We treat the guest with kindly, tenderly and hospitality mind. We precious the sense of the seasons. In spring we can hear the whisper of bird. Especially a bush warbler sound is beautiful. In summer we can hear the voice of some kind of cicadas. Through the season we can hear murmuring of a "ShimaGawa-river"stream.
Q2. Tell me about your most memorable guest.
A2. He is fighting against serious illness now. When I opened our web site in 1997, he stayed here with his wife. On those days, only few people watched our homepage. And our Ryokan was not well about profit. Therefore, he was a rare guest who looked at our homepage and came. And he watched in every corner of our site. However, he stopped suddenly coming here. I worried. He was being hospitalized. Last year he came here after a long time . He was very thin due to sickness. I hope he get well again.
Q3. Do newlyweds go to your ryokan for honeymoon?
A3. Some Japanese couple stayed here for honeymoon last year. Last September, newlyweds came to here for honeymoon from HAWAII.
Q4. What is your most typical guest?
A4. Japanese couple, who ages are in one's thirties.
Q5. Ryokan and onsen both have close relationship to nature. How do you see humans relationship with nature these days?
A5. Onsen is the blessings of nature. We have to keep this environment for next generation. Young people living in Shima-Onsen started the approach of the protection of nature. They plant the tree with broad leaves in the mountain for keeping underground water level.
Q6. How does the future of the ryokan and onsen seem like in Japan? Did your business suffer due to bad economy few years back?
A6. Japan was passive to tourist's from the foreign country acceptance up to now. But we are changing now. Japan has many original culture and nature. We believe many foreign guest come to Japan in near future.
Q7. What is your advice for people to make their lives more relaxing and > happy in daily life in Japan?
A7. Many Japanese famous sightseeing spot is noisy like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto etc. So I recommend you to add the stay-over to the plan in the Onsen and small Ryokan.
Thank you Mr. Kashiwabara. I wish you good luck for your future on behalf of Hanami Web.
Have you ever been to Hakone?
This is one of the towns we recommend.
You can access Kashiwaya Ryokan easily from Tokyo by using Shinkansen (for Niigata, or Nagano). Kashiwaya Ryokan is located in vicinity of Nakanojo. Please contact Kashiwaya Ryokan Japanese Onsen Resort : http://www.kashiwaya.org/e/