Koshinzuka is a traditional Japanese inn near Tsumago-juku, Nagano prefecture. Located on the Nakasendo, this charming little minshuku has served as a resting place for travelers in the idyllic Kiso Valley for many years.
From the outside, the tiny old house does not immediately give away all of its many charms. It is once you have entered through the inconspicuous wooden door that the magic of Koshinzuka, with its 100 year history, begins to shine.
Taking off your shoes, you stand in the tatami-clad common area where, around the warming hearth, meals and stories are shared with the host and other guests. Mahogany brown sliding doors lead to the cozy guest rooms, of which there are only three, making it easy to get to know other guests over a glass of sake or cup of tea in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
From the veranda of the guest rooms, you enjoy a wonderful view over the little pond and stream running behind the inn. After setting up the futons, it is time to enjoy a hot bath in the authentic wooden bathtub to rejuvenate muscles sore from hiking, before guests are called to dinner.
Meals are special at Koshinzuka. Not only is the food ample and delicious, many of the ingredients are grown in the minshuku’s own vegetable garden. Enjoy tasty tempura, homemade pickles, and the wonderfully sticky gohei-mochi rice cakes, the region’s specialty. But it is the host family’s hospitality that makes dinner at Koshinzuka such an unforgettable experience.
Tending to the fire, the innkeeper shares stories about the house and village’s past as a post town on the Nakasendo. After finishing the main course of our dinner, we moved outside into the summer night, where we were invited to catch nagashi-somen, thin noodles flowing down a bamboo slide. When our host sang for us, we found ourselves dancing in the street to an old folk song like locals did several hundred years ago.
English is limited at Koshinzuka, but the host family has accommodated many international guests and is experienced in catering to visitors with special dietary requests. Due to the limited capacity, booking well in advance is advised.