To visit Kira no Sato is not like traveling to big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka or even the historic old capitol of Kyoto. To visit Kira no Sato is experience rural Japan, to stay in a traditional Japanese resort ryokan, complete with the air of rest and relaxation that it embodies.
Soothing onsen, gourmet cuisine, stunning views, traditional design, heartfelt service... it is amazing how many unique characteristics can be conjured up by a single word: ryokan. This time around, I decided to stay at Komeya, the "gourmet ryokan" with an emphasis on cuisine, essentially the Japanese version of an auberge.
I arrived at Shuzenji Onsen in late October, before the fall leaves had completely turned. I had come to the area to stay at Kikuya, a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that was renowned for its old-world architecture and distinctly Japanese baths. Roughly located at the center of the Izu Peninsula, the Shuzenji Onsen area is home to three spots that captured a coveted two-star rating (three being the maximum) in the 2009 edition of the respected French guidebook, Michelin Green Guide Japon: Shuzenji (the central shrine), Chikurin no Komichi (a wooded pathway) and Shigetsuden (a temple).
Built in 1890 (the 23rd year of the Meiji Era), the venerable Fukuzumiro's entire complex is a registered cultural landmark. The area I will be specifically detailing is a Japanese-style room located on the mountain stream side of the building. Outside its window, the view of luxuriant greenery and the rushing river unfolds before my very eyes.