Gunma offers a perfect blend of beautiful mountains, wild settings, onset galore, activities aplenty and a real Japanese experience, including some very welcoming accommodation like Tatsumikan.
At Tatsumikan that welcome is truly personal, from the Fukatsu family who have had a hotel in the area for nearly 100 years. Kenzo Fukatsu discover the source of local hot springs in a rice field here back in 1924, and today Takuya Fukatsu and his charming wife continue the tradition Kenzo started.
The Minakami area’s many onsen are renowned for the quality of the water, and hotel’s onsen are designed to take full advantage with their indoor/outdoor baths.
Set on the banks of the beautiful Tone River, this is a peaceful oasis that’s less than 2 hours from downtown Tokyo – fastest way to get here is on the Joetsu shinkansen to Jomo-kogen. Fastest service is just 66 minutes, and from the station it’s a short 7 minute taxi ride to Tatsumikan. You can walk or get a taxi to check out the town, or car hire is available at the station.
The hotel is renowned for its local Japanese cuisine, especially the sunken fire barbecue feast that has it’s origins in a Samurai tradition called “Kensaki-yaki”, or sword grilling. The Samurai would be isolated at times, especially in the severe winters, and barbecuing local river fish and root vegetables speared on their swords was how they survived.
At Tatsumikan the idea remains the same, with skewers and tongs replacing swords. No doubt there’s a far more lavish selection of ingredients than the Samurai had.
It’s a veritable feast. The sweet-fleshed fish was the highlight for us. Venison, mushrooms and local Gunma beef are also delicious. As you cook away it’s hard to resist the traditional bamboo tumbler of warm saké either. Tatsumikan also boasts some nice imported reds, available in half bottles as well as full size. I bet the Samurai never had French reds, nor the mini cheese platter which magically appeared to go with them!
Breakfasts are another traditional style feast, more than enough to set you up for a day charging the powder snow at the nearby resorts like Tenjindeira, Minakami Hodaigi or White Valley in winter or doing a full day of outdoor activities like canyoning, rafting, hiking and more.
The hotel also features a souvenir and accessories shop and coffee shop area in the lobby.
The rooms are spacious comfortable Japanese style, with great futons and big flat screen TVs – which was handy as our visit coincided with the Pyeongchang Olympics.
For skiers and boarders looking for a quality authentic Japanese place to stay while sampling the many local ski options it’s a great choice. Therre are various buses and or taxi choices to get to these, or self-driving is handy in this area. Takuya Fukatsu works hard to promote the area, and the hospitality is great.
Getting to Tatsumikan Hotel
Quickest way to get here is on the Joetsu shinkansen to Jomo-kogen, as little as 66 minutes from Tokyo, with a short 7 minute taxi ride to the hotel from there.
To combine with Nagano/Myoko areas you hop off the Nagano/Hokuriku shinkansen at Takasaki – this usually involves change of platforms so if pre reserving your tickets best to allow enough time for that.
If self-driving the Tatsumikan is just 10 minutes drive from the Minakami IC on the Kan-etsu Expressway. The interchange is only 90 minutes in reasonable traffic from Tokyo.
Tatsumikan Hotel Rates and booking details
Rates ¥10,950 – ¥29,310 per person depending on the package.
For bookings go to the hotel’s reservations page (in English) here