B & B Café Hongu

Break from Japanese-style accommodation and food

By Alena Eckelmann    - 3 min read

Located just across the road from the Kumano Hongu Taisha (Hongu Grand Shrine), this modern B&B and café is not only a convenient choice for anyone who wants to stay overnight in Hongu Town, but it is also a very pleasant and relaxing place if you need a break from Japanese-style accommodation and food.

The owner, Kazumi Ueno-friends call him Katsu-who hails from Osaka set up his B & B and café here right next to Kumano-gawa (“Kumano River”) which is one of three rivers in Japan with the most rapid currents. The river originates in the Omine Mountain range in the north of the Kii Peninsula and it runs over 180km south and into the sea at Shingu City.

In the old days, the stretch of river between Hongu and Shingu was part of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. In fact, it is the only waterway in the world which is registered as UNESCO World Heritage.

Mr. Ueno knows the Kumano Kodo in and out and he serves as local tourist guide. While he is well versed on foot guiding hikers along the Kumano Kodo trails, his specialty is travelling on the Kumano River by kayak. Therefore, it was not by chance that he set up his B & B Café Hongu right next to the Kumano River.

The café is located on the first floor, ie ground floor in the US and Europe, while the guest rooms take up the second floor, ie 1st floor. The café is open to the public from 11:00 to 20:00 and it serves guests at the B & B breakfast and dinner outside the opening hours of the café.

The B & B and the café really is the domain of Katsu’s wife who prepares delicious meals and runs the place as a “healing and relaxation space”. This is evident in the carefully selected wooden interior of the spacious and light building as well as in the selection of healthy drinks and meals offered. She also carefully tends a little flower and herb garden right in front of the building where she cuts stems of flowers in summer for decorating the tables in the café.

The four guest rooms-one single room, two twin rooms and one triple room- have beds and they are decorated in a tasteful non-Japanese style. The bath and shower room which is also located upstairs is modern and guests take turns having a bath. The room rate starts at yen 5,000 but a higher rate is charged during holiday seasons.

Meals served range from salads to home-made Japanese curries or pasta dishes. The breakfast is a Western style serving with bread, sausage and egg and some jam. If you come there in the afternoon, you might want to try the cake set or just enjoy a coffee or herbal tea.

B & B Café Hongu is popular with hikers along the Kumano Kodo as well as with visitors of the Hongu Shrine. Ask Mr. Ueno some questions about the Kumano Kodo and he might invite you to join him, his mother and his friends at the “staff table” or even invite you along to the nearby local onsen.

There is no better way to end a long day hiking in the Hongu area than to enjoy a nice meal in a relaxing atmosphere followed by a soothing soak in the local hot spring.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Founder of Kii Monogatari, my story and the story of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. Originally from East Germany, I came to Tokyo, via Berlin and London, in 2005. In summer 2011 I moved by choice to remote Kumano in the south of the Kii Peninsula where I live, work and play now, and explore every day.The whole of the Kii Peninsula is a Healing Hub for me with its abundance of forest, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, the ocean, friendly rural communities and sacred places. This is where nature meets spirituality, and tradition meets sustainability, the new paradigm for travel post-pandemic. My deep interest is in Japanese nature & spirituality. I love being in nature, in the forest and in the mountains, and I love spending time at temples and shrines.  I am building my life and my work around these two passions. I am a Licensed Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy) Guide and a Licensed Kumano Kodo and Koyasan Guide. I am also a Licensed Retreat Facilitator and I am planning retreats on the Kii Peninsula. Last but not least, I have been the Japan Travel Partner for Wakayama and Yamagata since the conception of the platform in 2011! These two prefectures are close to my heart because they are the centers of Shugendo, a spiritual tradition of mountain ascetism. I am a Shugendo Practitioner for over ten years now and received Tokudo in 2016 at a Shugendo temple on Yoshinoyama. Please kindly connect via my Facebook Page Kii Monogatari. Take care, keep well, stay safe! 

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