Become Immersed in Slow, Mountain-Stream Life at Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel


PhotographyJun Hasegawa

Take the bus from the hotel ('Oirase Keiryu Winter Tour') and Shimeikei soon becomes visible. The rocks in the mountain stream wear snowy cotton hats. ©Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

Some sceneries can be enjoyed only during winter, and only in certain parts of the land. The snow that accumulates in the Oirase mountain stream, for example, shows exquisite colours of white, blue, and silver. The small and delicate footprints of martens and hares on the snow, the breathtaking beauty of frozen waterfalls, and the frost-covered trees are just a few of the charms of this place.

That is why Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel should be visited during the hard winter season. The only hotel standing along the Oirase Stream in Towada Hachimantai National Park, the facility offers guided tours on shuttle buses even in winter—when the promenade is closed. In other words, visitors can enjoy Lake Towada and the silvery world of Mt. Hakkoda as if the whole area is their own garden.

Lounge Kashin is a place for spending time enjoying free drinks and books. In the evening, a nature guide provides a free programme called Forest School that explains the highlights of the surrounding environment.

The Oirase Stream is a place famous for clear streams and beautiful autumn leaves. It is full of visitors during spring and autumn, but not in winter. Hoshino Resorts, which took over the predecessor hotel and opened in 2005, saw the area’s winter icefalls and the silvery environment as potential resources for attracting tourists, and began renovating the facilities and enhancing various activities. The hotel’s winter sales began in earnest in 2017.

The first part of the hotel to experience is Hyoho no Yu. The open-air public bath has an icefall that runs only in winter. Water is sprayed onto the surrounding walls from mid-December, and gradually begins to freeze. By mid-January, a huge ice waterfall measuring about 10 ft (3.5 m) high and 52 ft (16 m) wide appears. It creates a mysterious atmosphere in the morning and a fantastic one at night.

Hot spring water. Every year since winter season bookings began, improvements have been made. The ice shows a different expression every moment. It is a simple hot spring, and the bath is open from 6:00 to 24:00 (possible closures for maintenance). Usually available until March. ©Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

To enjoy a natural icefall in its entirety, we recommend taking a nighttime light-up tour. The bus runs along the Oirase mountain stream and shines a light when it encounters sights such as Makado Rock and Sanran streams. The spectacular view that suddenly appears in the dark can be seen only by the passengers of this tour.

Left: Navigating through the giant maze created by the forest of Hakkoda—Winter Hakkoda Nature Maze—is also available as a fun activity. 13,200 yen per person (until February 28) / Right: Makado Rock seen while taking the nighttime icefall light-up tour. The rock walls standing at over 66 ft (20m) shining in icy blue will leave a strong impression. ©Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

There are many attractions in the facility, too. The symbol of the west hall lounge, which hosts various activities, is a large fireplace named ‘Kashin’ (river god), by Taro Okamoto, who often visited Oirase. The sculpture is 33 ft (10 m) high and weighs 7 tonnes. The lobby in the east hall also has a fireplace sculpture created by Taro Okamoto, called ‘Mori no Shinwa’ (Myth of the Forest), which is 28 ft (8.5 m) high and weighs 5 tonnes. The sculpture becomes a bar lounge in the evening, where visitors can relax around the fireplace with an original cocktail, Apple Salty Dog.

East building lobby where Taro Okamoto's large fireplace, 'Mori no Shinwa' (Myth of the Forest), shines. At night, visitors can enjoy various cocktails and icefall sweets. The fire in the hearth promises a peaceful moment.

Apple Salty Dog is made with apple juice instead of grapefruit juice. Served during bar hours (20: 00-23: 00) at the lobby's 'Mori no Shinwa' (Forest Myth). 1,100 yen each ©Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

The concept of the hotel is a ‘Slow Mountain-Stream Life.’ The real pleasure of staying here is not just to be healed by nature, but to be actively immersed in it. In the snow-covered season, it becomes the perfect place to quietly reflect on oneself. Activate the five senses away from smartphones and other electronic devices and awake a sense of time, direction, and physical condition.

The recommended room is the Keiryu Washitsu (Japanese-style Keiryu room) with an open-air bath terrace, of which there are only three in the hotel. Immediately after waking up, or right before going to bed, visitors can enjoy the exceptional luxury of soaking in the open-air bath while overlooking the gorgeous mountain stream. Once having laid down on the Keiryu Goronto Chair facing the window, the existence of time will be forgotten.

The Western-style modern rooms have beds facing the mountain stream. When waking up and opening the curtains, a radiant world of magical silver awaits.

For those who want to stay indoors, there is a gourd-lamp-making workshop. The finished product can also be brought home. Reservations required. 5,000 yen (pedestal included)

New Icefall Sweets expressing icefalls with meringues, and winter mountain streams with apple mousse and cinnamon-flavoured crumble. 1,650 yen (limited to 10 pieces per day) ©Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

Aomori Apple Kitchen is a buffet restaurant marked by BUNACO's apple-shaped lampshade. Serves breakfast and dinner. ©Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

'Taro Kappa statue' by Taro Okamoto, which can be seen when going outside through the entrance beside Aomori Apple Kitchen. The same statue is present at the Taro Okamoto Museum in Kawasaki City.

Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel

Tochikubo-231 Okuse, Towada, Aomori

Tel: 0570 - 073 - 022

187 guest rooms

Twin room: from 21,000 yen

Modern room: from 23,000 yen

Keiryu Washitsu (Japanese-style Keiryu room) with an open-air bath terrace from 36,500 yen

※Tax included / dinner and breakfast included

Access: From JR Hachinohe Station

Approximately 90 minutes by car

Free shuttle bus service available (reservation required)