Friday, May 18, 2012

The Sushi Land Diary Part 2: Karuizawa

In a little spot an hour and a half by bullet train from Tokyo lies Karuizawa - a hell of a Japanese gem. Near Nagano and away from Tokyo's urban craziness, Karuizawa is pure bliss where I found a little piece of heaven with nature and wide open spaces.

Staying at: Hoshinoya Ryokan, Karuizawa. Top-notch modern ryokan with the most spectacular setting, it's officially the best hotel/resort I've been to (replacing my previous best of Commune by The Great Wall). I was literally gasping in wonder with a nonstop muttering of "Sugoii!!" while we were being driven to our room nestled in the woods, with the Yukawa River rolling and streaming through the premise. To say that the view of nature from our room is spectacular is simply an understatement. The entire resort is surrounded by peaceful river and beautiful landscape and it's the kind of place you need to be there to experience its full wonder. I was left quite speechless by its magnificence. Facilities include private onsen for Hoshinoya guests only, origami sessions, mochi making sessions and many more, while the nearby Harunire Terrace is just a five-minute walk away, offering scenic shops and restaurants alongside the beautiful Yukawa river in a board-walk setting. It's no wonder it's touted as one of the best by The Wallpaper.
Eating: Kasuke at Hoshinoya Ryokan. My love for Kaiseki is well-recorded in my blog and it's here I had the most amazing Japanese marbled beef that simply melts in my mouth. Also loving the ice cream at Nagai Farm at the Harunire Terrace and it's officially the best ice cream I've ever eating. My love for soba was also greatly satisfied at Kawakami-an where they have the biggest tempura prawn I've had and delicious duck dipping sauce that makes me salivate every time I think about it.
Drinking: More macha but I'm totally not complaining! I love Genmaicha too!
Visiting: The Musasabi, or the Japanese Giant Flying Squirrel, at Picchio Wild Life Reserve Station!!! Picchio offers evening tour to see the Musasabi (and a whole lot of other activities) and it was definitely the highlight of the trip!

How gorgeous is my bento I got for my bullet train ride? So pretty I didn't I could keep looking at it. Taste as divine as it looks too

Reception area at Hoshinoya. Didn't get the chance to see someone perform with the percussion set though

Welcome mochi with a beautiful Hana Sakura. Delicious!

Poobah and Uncle Twinkle travel with me a lot. They're best buddies. 

The Japanese Cedar wood bathtub I so want to bring home

Awesome Hoshinoya amenities
Such peaceful setting with the lake literally at your balcony

Lovely terrace landscape with a little stream flowing through for the ultimate idyllic setting

You can't get better than this, with a river flowing directly outside your door steps

The cutest hydro power plant

Kasuke Restaurant at the main building of Hoshinoya. Serving up authentic Japanese fine dining with an amazing "landscape" design to mimic the beautiful Satoyama setting. 

And the have the iconic Artichoke Lamp my boyfriend is lusting after

No ordinary staircase handle bar. This one curves seductively with beautiful lights underneath

Another view of the Kasuke Restaurant. Such beautiful design

Harunire Terrace where the little shops and restaurants are. Literally a stone's throw away from Hoshinoya. 

The biggest tempura prawn I've had at Kawakami-an. I went back again for more. 

If you ever visit Karuizawa and Harunire Terrace, PLEASE try the ice cream at Nagai Farm. The best ice cream I've had in my life. The smoothest and creamiest cold delights that will make you want more!

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