Mori no Atorie 森のアトリエ, Kumamoto Japan

My mom found this place on Booking.com when we were planning our trip to Aso in Japan, after driving around Beppu, It took us about another 2 hour drive over beautiful landscapes to reach this very romantic and beautiful destination. I don’t think that there is any place quite like it. The hotel owner is a very big fan of stars and his french themed cottage even has a planetarium and an observatory. We were lucky that we were able to see so many stars that night even with the cloudy day.

We spent New Years eve here and we even had a countdown with all the guests of the hotel. This would be the perfect place for couples because the place is so romantic. Also for families who are looking for a quiet getaway out of the city. Its not very accessible unless you have a car. Everyone who comes here brought their own car, we just rented one out.

If you search it on trip advisor, you’ll hear nothing but “Charming” and “Rustic” about the place. They really made our stay there memorable. They even gave us a souvenir and they had photographers taking pictures of us which they posted up on their Facebook page. I really had an amazing time there despite the really cold weather. Next time you travel to Aso or Kumamoto this should be on your list, they also have an onsen that you could use and schedule. Its really on a very nice location and we had amazing memories here in Mori no Atorie.

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Picture credits to: Mori no Atorie Facebook page. Exactly 12 midnight after the countdown.

別府市、大分:Side trips from Tokyo: Beppu Oita

Beppu is located in Oita prefecture in the small island of Kyushu. It was an hour and 30 minute airplane ride from Tokyo. Beppu is known for its Onsen (hot springs) this is a great place to visit if you are a gaijin (foreigner) and you are a fan of onsens. It is also home to the first ever natural hot spring in Japan.

They have here what they call the 8 Jigoku (地獄) of Beppu (The 8 hells of Beppu), “Hell” because the 8 famous Onsen are so hot that they can melt your skin if you even touch the water. My Obaachan (grandmother) was saying maybe they call it “hell” because in the past they probably used to punish the bad people by dropping them into the Onsen. (Of course this is just another one of Obaachans theories)

海地獄 (Umi Jigoku) One of the most beautiful hells. Which is the only hell that was visited by the Emperor of Japan.

 

Yama Jigoku, Where you can view animals like the capybara in the Onsen.

 

We saw some capybara swimming in the Onsen too. The 8 different Onsen are all the same just different in color. Some are white, some are blue and clear. There was also a red Onsen, each coming with its own explanation. The most famous Onsen was the last one we went to which was the Umi Jigoku (海地獄) Which is famous because it is said to be the most beautiful Jigoku (hell), and the only Jigoku that the emperor visited in his stay here.

Oniishibouzu Jigoku, Because of its mud pools. You can try their mud pools here for an amount. This place is where you can try drinking their water.

Shiraike Jigoku

 

Tatsumaki Jigoku, Which is the sprout of hell. Every 40 minutes the water from underground goes over 100 degrees celsius and spouts water for 6-10 minutes from underground.

Chinoike jigoku, spout from hell. The color of the Onsen here is red. Hence the term “chinoike jigoku” Chi meaning blood.

 

How to get here from Tokyo: Take a plane from Haneda airport to Oita

How to get around Oita: We opted to rent a car, so I got my international drivers license before coming to Japan.  The rent a car people have a shuttle from the airport and they will teach you how to use the navigation machine to get around the 8 hells of Beppu.

We recommend that you work from the nearest Onsen working your way to the top. Then you can choose to stay in the famous hotel chain the famous Suginoi hotel. Where there you can relax in their famous Onsen and enjoy their food.

What is in Suginoi Hotel? 

Onsen onsen and more onsen. The food here is in buffet style with an option of Washoku and Yoshoku. (Traditional Japanese food and Western food) the place is famous for its Onsen on their 5th floor terrace which overlooks the city. People come here early in the morning to take a dip out in the terrace while watching the sunrise. Now thats one for your bucket list. 

 ✔ Watching the sunrise naked on a terrace with other naked people in weather thats about 7°C

Heres my first time driving on the left hand side of the car and side of the road.

 

 We’re off to our next destination from Beppu!

Going around Tokyo: Kagurazaka (神楽坂)

Kagurazaka according to my grandmother was once part of the outer edge of the Edo castle. They were known for their geisha houses and until today you will still see people walking around in their Kimonos around the area, and there are still some houses and geisha houses that remain preserved here since the Edo period. The long slope filled with different Japanese shops are also known to have a lot of French influence as well. The  l’Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo is located near here and because of that there are many French living around the area. If you go up the slope you will notice plenty of french cafes and restaurants. My friend Solene will take me to the best one on Sunday since she says that they serve, and this is according to her “Real french food that you can’t even find in all of france”.

Along with french food, cafes and bakerys, there are also famous Japanese Ryoteis around the different streets. Ryoteis are places where you can eat inexpensive “kaiseki” or Japanese cuisine. On July they have a festival here along Kagurazaka road so if you are visiting Japan on July I believe that it is the best time to go here.

Try getting your omikuji here if you would like. ;)

Try getting your omikuji here if you would like. 😉


Its a very long street! Try walking it from Iidabashi and you will not get bored!

Its a very long street! Try walking it from Iidabashi and you will not get bored!

How to get there: If you would go down at Iidabashi you will soon find Kagurazaka street, you will see a Starbucks at the end of the street and going up hill will be Kagurazaka. Another way would be to use the tozai and toei oedo lines which gets down at Kagurazaka.

What to try: There is this famous Japanese “nikuman” shop called 五十番. I would recommend that you try their original Nikuman. Also after I visit the french restaurant that my friend is recommending here in Kagurazaka I will include it again in my blog. (wink. wink)

The red shop is the nikuman shop!

The red shop is the nikuman shop!


You must try their Nikuman!

You must try their Nikuman!