By Allie Tan
As Nara prefecture is largely a mountainous region it’s no surprise that it’s much different from the hustle and bustle of the big city. With this in mind getting away from the glow of neon lights is a must during any trip to Japan. Of course when venturing out to the quieter areas of the country finding somewhere to stay in an accessible location is essential.
Just a short journey from Nara is a sleepy town at the foot of the prefectures easterly mountains named Sakurai. Once arriving just a minute’s walk from the station is Tomiyamakan, a small local hotel with a rustic feel and welcoming atmosphere. Though the building appears hotel like from the outside, each room is no different from a ryokan and features tatami mats and of course sliding doors (shoji). I’ve stayed in a couple of tradition Japanese inns and each one though similar in design and features has it’s own personality and is something that really makes my stay worthwhile each time.
Though Tomiyamakan is located in a small town, its personality is big. I’m personally a huge fan of classic Japanese cinema and entering the building my mind instantly wandered into memories of Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpieces. Long accentuated corridors run along each floor and for a moment I felt like I’d see Chishu Ryu turn a corner. Returning from fiction, each room is of a very ample size and something I’m sure other will appreciate like myself. One feature of my room that I found comforting was it had it’s own toilet. Though something that doesn’t bother me this was a nice change and I was pleasantly surprised. Other rooms in the hotel offer complete en-suite bathrooms pushing the already present level of comfort up a notch. Another feature that makes the hotel an ideal place to stay is its accessibility to the surrounding sightseeing locations. A minute’s walk from the station and bus terminal, getting to the places you want could be no easier.
Upon arriving I was greeted by the charismatic owner and taken to my room. No sooner than I had closed the door I received a knock and was brought a flask of hot water and a teapot. This was a real pleasure and a small touch that I really admired. The level of hospitality in Japan never ceases to make me feel welcomed and the rural charm of Tomiyamakan really made it an interesting place to spend the night.
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