By Kenji Chida
A lot has been written and said about what the word international means in Japan. While the true meaning of the word is debatable, Japan has earned a reputation for being the opposite of international, and, therefore, it is at the very least a positive attempt to counteract that image.
Okayama’s International Villas were conceived in the hope that Japan would become a larger part of international tourism, targeting guests from abroad interested in the traditional and natural side of the country. The villas were positioned to offer the budget conscious traveler an affordable and memorable place to stay in authentic settings. This experiment to open up Japan’s heart to the outside world has hit a snag. By 2009, only four out of the five villas were operational. Nevertheless, it has a lot going for it.
Hattoji Villa is located on the mountainside of Yoshinaga, part of Bizen City. Getting to the villa is very easy if you're using public transportation or driving. Driving up to the villa you'll notice how the urban scenery quickly disappears and is replaced by lush greenery. This villa is a great getaway for a few days, especially if you need time to rest from your travels.
The villa has a modern kitchen where you can prepare your own meals as well as an old style irori (Japanese style fireplace) to sit around and chat. You can choose to stay as a single guest or make an exclusive booking of the whole villa. The villa also has an old style bath, cauldron shaped, known as a goemonburo, perfect to soak in before heading off to your Japanese style tatami room. If you are thinking of a place to bring a group of friends for a real getaway from the city and for that matter technology then this villa is certainly an option to consider. But don’t forget to bring as much food as you plan to eat as you will find yourself in an isolated village mountaintop miles away from the closest supermarket.
Hattoji Villa invites you at any time of the year but it is probably best suited for summer. If you do go in fall or winter bundle up, prepare some hot sake and enjoy the rustic scenery.
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Hi, I’m Judith Mikami originally from Auckland, New Zealand. I came to Japan about twenty years ago to experience a culture and country very different from my homeland. Like many who have ventured to Japan I fell in love with the people, culture and places and before I knew it I would meet my husband. I have lived only in Okayama Prefecture and call this area my home away from home.