Several months ago I travelled to Kochi Prefecture (高知県), located in Shikoku, to work at a newly established hot spring (onsen) resort, or as the owner would put it, “lodging with onsen”, in a small town called Nakamura (中村). The name of the resort is Yamamizuki (山水木 – literally “Mountain, water, trees”). It is situated on a small mountain overlooking Shimanto River, known as the last unspoiled river in Japan due to its location and lack of human constructed dams, as it flows into the Pacific. The site offers breathtaking views of the mountains of Shikoku, the river, and the ocean. This trip truly made a lasting impact on me in the two weeks I stayed there, both as an employee, and a tourist.
Onsen with an incredible view.
Yamamizuki is much more than just a place to stay. One of their main goals is to foster experiential learning by hosting various events. Though I was there during down season and did not get to experience any events, some that have been done or were being planned included pilates lessons with gorgeous views, organic cooking classes for kids, hosting live bands, and many others. These activities are supported by dedicated staff that are willing to continuously try new things, and to use the land that they have for various events and projects involving not just tourists, but the local community as well. It is a place where people can really experience hands on what it feels to live in nature, but also enjoy the pleasures of modern life.
Although these activities are mainly hosted in Japanese, some staff there do speak other languages including English.
One of their most recent projects, “Glamping,” described as camping with glamour!
With everything else going on, it is easy to forget that Yamamizuki is first and foremost, an onsen resort. Since Yamamizuki covers quite an extensive area of land, instead of having rooms within one building like most other hotels, Yamamizuki allows guests the opportunity to stay in their own private cottage with a Japanese styled interior. They have 3 smaller, private bathhouses and a larger, open-air bathhouse that is divided into a male and female section. After a long day, one could soak in a nice warm bath which features floor to ceiling windows that offer unobstructed views of the ocean, mountains, river, and a sky dotted with innumerable stars. I had recently studied up on my constellations and spent many nights quietly gazing at the night sky in an all too often futile attempt to identify even the most prominent of the constellations. It is surprisingly difficult when there are literally thousands of clearly visible stars. There are few other places where different landscapes so effortlessly intertwine to spark our inner wonder.
That being said, spending a night here would probably cost more than some other hotels. Prices can range from ¥12,500-¥16,900 per person, depending on the number of guests that stay at a time. However, I do believe the price may be reasonably justified by the location, scenery, facilities, and meals provided. Tents are also available for rental and camping prices range from ¥2,000-¥5,500 per person.
One of the huts where guests can stay.
Inside the open-air bathhouse.
Though some come to Yamamizuki and stay overnight, many others also just visit for a cup of coffee or a meal at their café. Food here is truly well prepared, and when paired with the view, becomes all the more extravagant. The manager is a Japanese-Brazilian who is fluent in many languages including English and Portuguese so don’t be afraid to exchange a few words with him if you see him! And please do ask the staff for suggestions on traveling around the area. Exploring by bike would probably be a great adventure, and is something that is highly recommended!
The café from the front
Inside of the café
Food made with fresh, local ingredients.
Their website can be accessed here (basic information & booking in Japanese):
Their Facebook page where they post all their events, news, and updates:
You can also book in English on their AIR BNB page:
Bike Rental Information:
The bike rental shops Official Website.
Transportation: (If you have no personal vehicle)
-Call ahead to let the staff know when you will arrive, take the train/bus to Nakamura Station, and they will probably have someone pick you up!
-There are some local buses that may bring you close to Yamamizuki, look around the train station. You will have to walk to actually get to as there are currently no bus services Yamamizuki.