By Nicole Bauer
Are you looking for a homelike and cozy place to stay on Rishiri Island? Then Hera-san's house is an excellent choice! It is conveniently located overlooking the port of Oshidomari, just a few minutes by foot from the ferry terminal.
We arrived in the morning and immediately spotted this beautiful house, which actually looks like it would fit well into the English countryside. Inside, basically everything is made of wood: floor, tables, shelves etc., creating a really warm and cozy atmosphere, and the sea view from the lounge is fantastic. It felt like we could just jump out of the window into the ocean; we immediately knew that we had chosen the right place! Hera-san, the owner, was not really expecting us so early (usually, check-in does not happen before 3 pm in Japan), but he was happy to store our luggage and tell us about the most interesting places to see. We also rented bicycles directly from him, which came extremely handy. We found out later that the bicycle rental was even free of charge, a service he offers to his guests. How nice is that!
We spent the whole day outside, cycling around and exploring the island, which is truly wonderful. Make sure you grab one of the very useful English maps from the tourist information at the ferry terminal before you start exploring.
Coming back to Hera-san's house, we checked in, finding ourselves in a lovely western style twin room, again with great sea views. Hera-san-no-ie offers 8 rooms in total, 5 tatami rooms (Japanese style) and 3 western style twin rooms. There was no en-suite bathroom or toilet; however, the shared bathroom facilities (separated by gender) were spacious and spotless. They also have a nice ofuro (bath) made of volcanic stones. Although the water does not come from a hot spring, it is still very relaxing. If you are looking for a real onsen (hot spring), try the public Rishirifuji Onsen in Oshidomari.
Finally, dinnertime! The small restaurant area in Hera-san's house is right next to the open kitchen, so we could see and smell all the delicacies Hera-san and his wife were preparing, whilst overlooking the sea of course! They cooked us a mind-blowing 7-course dinner. Don`t worry, the portions were very reasonable, just about right. We had scallops, sea urchin and a whole white fried fish – so delicious and beautifully arranged with fresh and organically grown vegetables from the island. It was like a mixture of home-style cooking and gourmet dining, all in a very relaxed living room atmosphere, simply great! After dinner we opted for a freshly hand-brewed coffee. Coffee lover Hera-san only started grinding the beans after having received our order!
We had a good night's sleep and woke up early enough to see the fishermen catching sea urchin in the bay right in front of our window. They have quite a special technique, very interesting to watch them for a while.
Needless to say, we had a fantastic time: Lovely house, beautiful setting, friendly owners, and wonderful food…!
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Travelling abroad to discover new places, getting to know different cultures and learning foreign languages has always been my passion. I was born and raised in Germany; however, for a few years now I've been very lucky to be able to spend my life abroad. I lived for some time in England and Italy before moving to Japan in October 2009. It took me a while to adapt to this very different world; however, travelling up and down the country has helped me to not only adapt, but to actually fall in love with this country Japan. It has also reawakened my interest in photography, so whenever I get a chance I pack my camera and discover something new. Japan is full of beautiful but less well-known places. To make these more discoverable for everybody, I'm very happy to be able to share my stories and photography on this site, and open a world of extraordinary experiences, which would be difficult to find in a guidebook. For any queries regarding Tokyo as a travel destination or any of my published articles, please feel free to contact me.