2052 Kamimoku, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma
Tatsumikan stands proudly on the banks of the Tone River in the Kamimoku area of Minakami and is very central to many of the activities in the area. The owner, who is the fourth generation of the family in charge of Tatsumikan, styles his operation on three kinds of warmth taken from different parts of the Japanese character for the word. It is also an auspicious character within Buddhism.
The Warmth of the Onsen
A detailed analysis of the onsen water coming from the spring that feeds Tatsumikan shows that the water is from rain and snowmelt that fell about 17 years ago in the local area. During its slow journey it has picked up minerals and now provides soothing relaxation to visitors. One of the big draws of Tatsumikan for Japanese visitors is the mosaic in the Haniwa baths which is a re-creation of a collage by a famous artist depicting a local scene - Omine Pond and Mount Tanigawa. Kiyoshi Yamashita often created his works from memory and used torn up scraps of paper to depict the scenes. The original work is in the possession of the hotel and the level of detail in the small picture is amazing.
The Warmth of the Fire
Dinner at Tatsumikan is a feast to savor. The main draw is cooking around a sunken hearth which is a typical cooking style in the countryside regions with heavy snow. The hearth known as an irori was the center of the home during the long winters and a gathering place for the family, as well as the source of warmth. This style of cooking is said to have its roots in the samurai grilling food over the fire on their swords while on the road. The spread at Tatsumikan involves many courses and lots of local ingredients which are slowly cooked over a very special charcoal that takes a week of constant attention to make.
The Warmth of the Locals
The owner of Tatsumikan is extremely kind and welcoming, and instills this high level of hospitality in all of his staff. These locals are keen to share their world with the guests. Back in the day when the building was still a three story wooden affair the local fishermen would offer fish from the river for the evening’s dinner. During the summer holidays some of the local grandfathers are on hand to teach children and adults some of the local handicrafts such as making traditional toys and games. There is no better way to get to know an area than to get in touch with the locals.
Explore the life and culture of Yukiguni through one of the unique local experiences available.
Hands-on Experiences with Local Skills
In the Yukiguni area, where almost half the year was spent under snow, many of the household necessities were made by hand, especially over the winter months when there was nothing to do outside. Close to Tatsumikan is a small village of craftsmen called Takumi-no-Sato where you can experience some of the skills that have been passed down through the years. The village itself is quaint and worth a walk around, you can try your hand at different experiences, shop, or enjoy some delicious local food.
Tatsumikan is a large modern building on the banks of the river though in spite of this appearance it still offers the classic ryokan experience that would be familiar to people of a previous era.
Stretching Out on the Tatami
The roots of the family at Tatsumikan go back to the early twenties, and they still remain true to their traditions of Japanese hospitality. The rooms are floored with tatami mats with futons being laid out each evening. It is a soothing experience to lie on a comfortable futon, with the scent of the tatami in the room, views of Mount Tanigawa out of the window, and the sound of the river flowing past.
A Variety of Onsen Types to Enjoy
The Haniwa bath with its artworks, both ancient and modern, are a big draw but there are other baths to enjoy at Tatsumikan. There is an outdoor onsen with views of the Japanese garden and also a wooden cedar bath. Inside the Haniwa baths is a traditional onsen steam room - it is not quite a sauna but lets you benefit from the effects of surrounding yourself in the onsen steam.
There are various displays of Haniwa art dotted around Tatsumikan and the baths. This is something of a hobby of the owner whose interest was sparked by the many pieces that have been found around the local area. The terracotta clay figures were made for ritual use and usually buried with the dead.
There are yukatas for rent in the lobby so you can dress in the traditional style at Tatsumikan. Shedding your usual day-to-day clothes and giving yourself a complete cleanse is part of the enjoyment and relaxation of a ryokan stay.
The statue outside the main baths is of Yakushi who faces the onsen source and is its protector.
To facilitate your rest and relaxation Tatsumikan has an earlier check-in than most accommodations.
Enjoying the seasons at Tatsumikan. Not only is it situated on the river with great views of the mountains, there are also many seasonal activities to enjoy nearby. Firefly viewing, star gazing, medicinal plant tours, and aromatherapy workshops are some of the events throughout the year. There are also other activities such as pottery or glass blowing to experience nearby.