5 CURIOUS FEATURES OF A JAPANESE STYLE ROOM

On the 25th of December 2015, I received an e-mail from The Overseas Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA) of Japan inviting me to join nine other Experts to experience a place called Gifu.  Gifu Prefecture is located in Central Honshu, Japan’s main island and has played an important role in Japan’s history because of its strategic location.  But honestly – why haven’t I heard about this place even before this invitation?  I was excited anyway and was very eager to learn about Gifu so I packed my clothes way before my scheduled flight!

I skimmed through the documents that came along with the invitation to search for our accommodation since I committed to writing about hotels and restaurants.  You know what I found out? We will be hotel hopping for the five day trip! This is going to be an adventure!

From the list of hotels, HOTAKASO YAMANO HOTEL particularly caught my attention because their website gave an option for guests to choose to book a western style room or a Japanese style room.  I emailed, Yuki Tanaka, one of the the organizers and requested for her to book me in a Japanese style room and I was elated to find out that there was one available for me!

To cut the story short, let me just bring you to HOTAKASO YAMANO HOTEL.  Have fun with me as I explore their Japanese style room.

But before that, here is how the hotel looked like when we arrived:

hotel yamano snow
The Magical facade of Hotakaso Yamano Hotel!   Embraced by the pure white powdery snow.  As I have earlier written in one of my articles, it was like watching a Disney movie in 3D!  This resort is ideal for honeymooners!  The hotel is located at 577-13 Okuhida Onsengo Kansaka, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-1421, Japan 🙂

The hotel looks heavenly right?  But that will be for another article.  Now, let me walk you through my one-of-a-kind room.

Ooops, before we get inside, I would like to remind you to leave your shoes outside.  An inside slipper will be provided for you.

shoes 123

Doozo ohairi kudasai! Please come in!

IMG_2880
I was amazed at how many sliding doors there were when I took a peek at the room. When I realized that I will be staying here alone, I could not help but imagine the Japanese horror movies that I’ve seen especially “The Ring”. But let’s not talk about that, I am here to have fun and experience how it is to sleep in an authentic Japanese Sytle Room! haha. 🙂

To start with the experience, you must first wear a YUKATA:

yukata
YUKATA is a night clothing that is usually provided in spa resorts. They looked like Japanese costume to me so I am really in to wear it. Click this site to see how these clothes are worn.
japanese room alone 1
Here I am donning a YUKATA. (Photo by Roxy Navarro)

I could not stand being alone so I knelt down to summon some of my friends. And with a blink of an eye…

Tada!

happy friends
From left to right: Roxy Navarro, me, and Kenneth Del Rosario.(Photo by Roxy Navarro)

Now, I’m ready to show you around!

A Japanese style room is called washitsu or nihonma and has these five distinctive features:

  1. Tatami flooring –
tatami flooring
You can find this type of flooring in Japanese style rooms. It is a type of woven mat using rice straw.  Tatami floors used to be found only in the home of the wealthy and it only reached the commoners home by the end of the 17th century. (Photo by Dexter Diwas)

These days, it is not unusual to find only one room with tatami flooring in Japanese houses, this is where they usually entertain guests or have special gatherings just like what is depicted below:

serving tea
Oh yes! I normally look at the camera when serving tea. haha (Photo by Roxy Navarro)

2) Sliding doors or fusuma

sliding doors
Fusuma are rectangular panels that you can move from side to side for the purpose of defining spaces within the room. The one in the picture separated where my futon is from the area where I entertained some of my guests during my short stay at Hotakaso Yamano Hotel.  (photo by Kenneth Del Rosario)

Well, I discovered that a fusuma can also be used as a backdrop for taking pictures. Whether whole body…

back drop fusuma
Fusuma as a backdrop. (Photo by Kenneth Del Rosario)

Or half body…

half body fusuma
Fusuma as a backdrop..in sepia. haha (Photo by Kenneth Del Rosario)

3)Futon – Futon is a special japanese mattress that you can lay on the floor by night and fold by day so you can use the room for other purposes.

IMG_2870
A fresh futon on a tatami floor is so inviting!
futon model
I always dreamt of becoming a futon model and my travel to Gifu made this dream come true! Just a reminder: Futons must be brought outside to be aired in sunlight regularly, otherwise, it will accumulate dust and whatever dirt. Also, to prevent the futon from matting, they usually beat it using a futon tataki that is made out of bamboo. The same process we do when we beat our carpets. 🙂

4) Zaisu – another distinctive feature of the room is a zaisu, a chair without legs but with a comfortable backrest.

IMG_2895
A zaisu in my Japanese room. At first, it would look uncomfortable to be sitting on this chair but the back support and the cushiony seat gave me the much needed comfort after a busy day. (photo by Dexter Diwas)
comfortable in a zaisu
Roxy the web developer and videographer, Dexter the blogger, and Kenneth the writer are seen here being comfy using a zaisu! (Photo by Roxy Navarro)

5) Kotatsu

kotatsu
Kotatsu. A low wooden table frame. I am not sure if this has a heater underneath it but kotatsu usually has a heating device that is used during winter. They cover this with a thick blanket to capture the heat coming from underneath.
tea parties japanese style room
Kotatsu is perfect for tea parties! (Photo by Roxy Navarro)

You might wonder, how about their restroom?  Well, it looks pretty much western to me.  The only difference is that the toilet is separated from the shower.

restroom japanese style room
The floor in the restroom is covered with straw mats and that gave me the feel of the continuing Japanese theme.

I also enjoyed the regular soaking tub..

soaking tub japanese hotel
This is not a screen grab from a horror movie. That was me enjoying the soaking tub!

Those are the five distinctive features of a Japanese style room.  Throughout the night, I could not hide my amazement at how rich the Japanese culture is and I am truly blessed to have experienced it through an overnight stay at HOTAKASO YAMANO HOTEL at Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

Thanks to The Overseas Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA) for a successful tourism program! My “Japanese Style Room Experience” was worth accepting your invitation!

To learn more about the wonders of GIFU, visit the following facebook pages: GIFU GETAWAY and GIFU CROSSROADS.

by: Dexter Duclan Diwas


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