Imagine a rural bed and breakfast that’s in touch with tradition, but contemporary; isolated, yet convenient; simple, yet refined—and one located on the edge of a national park. BBC Nagayu (Bed, Breakfast, and Culture) sits on the outskirts of the onsen, or hot spring, village of Nagayu in a little mountainside grove along a bubbling river.
Filled with books on mountaineering and nature, BBC Nagayu is a popular stop for hikers and nature lovers exploring the Kuju mountain range. The cabins have comfy workstations, peaceful views, and come with free deluxe baths at the local Japanese inns right down the street. There’s no surprise the village has cultural connections to Bad Krozingen in Germany, and you’ll even spot some German signs as you stroll through the environs of this Japanese cousin of the Schwartzwald spa resort. We only spent a weekend here, but it’s ideal for longer stays to heal, relax and get away from the bustle of modern life. It’s perfect for reading, writing poetry, taking walks, and listening to birdsong (book reservations here).
The cabins of BCC Nagayu may at first seem small, but with happy nooks and crannies, high ceilings, and sliding-glass doors that open onto porches filled with dappled light and space under the trees, they feel just right, like a tailored shirt.
BBC Nagayu offers free and discounted access to bathhouses in the village. Many visitors opt to take their baths in the afternoon, but we took ours at night and again at dawn when no one else was there. Daimaru Ryokan is the nearest and has baths looking out onto the river that date back a century to the Taisho period. Nagayu is well known for naturally carbonated baths, with Ramune Onsen being perhaps the most famous due to its unusual buildings designed by the noted architect, Terunobu Fujimori. Even if you don’t bathe there, you can have a look at the structures and even purchase some of the water for drinking (said to be good for high blood pressure and easing constipation). If you’re in a pinch for time and don’t mind being right in the middle of things, visit Gani-yu, a free hot spring bath right in the river itself. Its name ("Crab Bath") comes from the legend that a crab fell in love with a girl but was stuck by lightning on this spot.
A night’s stay in the smallest cabin is under 10,000 yen for two people and comes with a countryside Japanese breakfast, simple and healthy. True to the concept of BBC Nagayu, it’s not fancy on purpose, corresponding to a warm and homelike stay rather than an elegant or exotic resort atmosphere.
After breakfast, visit the picturesque little library building, with 13,000 volumes on mountaineering and a mini-museum. Even if you don’t read Japanese, there are art and photography books as well as a collection of antique hiking equipment to check out. Later on, you can cook for yourself here, since the cabins have kitchens, or explore the neighborhood and visit a local restaurant. Alternatively, take one of the free electric bicycles on offer and visit some of the more remote stretches of the village. If you’d rather stay off your feet, BBC Nagayu has a service that will deliver dinner from a local restaurant to your room.
Be rest assured, even as you escape modern life to rejuvenate here, they still have free Wi-Fi.
Besides being a hideaway, BBC Nagayu also works as a base for exploring the magnificent Aso-Kuju National Park.
B・B・C 長湯—Bii Bii Shii Nagayu—BBC Nagayu