A whole house for yourself! Experience life inside a kominka equipped with a sauna tent!
Writer: The travel and sauna-loving Akito
Kominka – old Japanese folk houses that exude a peaceful atmosphere, a source of nostalgic attraction for many people. I recently traveled to Isumi City, Chiba, to spend a night in one myself. My party consisted of three people, but the facility can accommodate up to 10 people at one time.
Isumi can be found in the southeastern part of Chiba Prefecture. A city bursting with the allure of nature, it is surrounded by woodlands and ocean. You can also find a fishing harbor that offers another main attraction of the area – fresh seafood.
The kominka I stayed in is called Kishu-ann, and it is located in the Shakayatsu district of Isumi City. The structure is 200 years old and is surrounded by approximately 160 sq. m. of lush nature. Visitors can rent out the entire house and have it all to themselves.
One unique feature of this particular kominka is the authentic, Russian sauna tent that guests can rent and try out. That’s not the only equipment they offer, as the facility also provides BBQ sets.
Inside the house, there are several tatami rooms that offer a glimpse into the past. In the living room is a record player on which you can relax to anything from nostalgic Western and Japanese pop to classical music. Needless to say, you will sleep on a futon (traditional Japanese bedding) laid out on the tatami floor.
Now it’s time to try out the sauna tent!
The sauna tent is situated on a wooden deck that overlooks the village of Shakayatsu. You can fill your lungs with the outdoor air while gazing at the beautiful scenery. Next to the tent is an earthenware pipe from which you can pump up water from a well. With that, your water bath is complete.
The tent is already prepared for guests in advance, so all there is left to do is light a fire.
Once I prepared a bonfire inside the tent and poured water over the lava stone set atop an iron plate, the temperature inside the tent increased rapidly and reached over 120 degrees C (248 degrees F). It felt incredibly liberating to enjoy a sauna on a mountain surrounded by nature. It was a truly memorable experience!
After recharging in the sauna, it was time for dinner. While there is a kitchen inside the house for guests to cook in, we opted to rent the BBQ set and have a BBQ in the backyard.
We also rented a bonfire stand and spent a relaxing evening around the fire after dinner.
The surrounding nature set the ultimate stage for the exquisite starlit sky, and I was able to see a sea of stars illuminating the night.
Although it was a short one-night stay, I was able to unwind and feel refreshed after drinking in the outdoor air.
The kominka can be accessed via a 90-minute car ride from Tokyo. I highly recommend it to those who want to spend a carefree weekend away from all the hustle and bustle of city life!
For more information about Kishu-ann:
*The information herein is as of May 2021.