Kosuge - A Traditional Japanese Village Only Two Hours from the City
The village of Kosuge in Yamanashi Prefecture is a two-hour drive from Tokyo or 30 minutes from Otsuki Station, a stopping point for visitors to Mt. Fuji. Not far from the city and with a population of only 700 people, Kosuge is surrounded by beautiful, untouched old-growth forests. The village is also at the source of Tama River, which flows through the Kanto Plain and carries fresh water into Tokyo.
Kosuge used to be home to 2,200 residents, but it had since dwindled to just a third of that, and was facing extinction. Five years ago, amidst this crisis, Mayor Naoyoshi Funaki initiated a project to prevent further depopulation. The village constructed a michi-no-eki (roadside station), planned various events, and founded a startup company. As a result, by 2018, the number of visitors to Kosuge increased from 80,000 to 180,000, and the village stands as a success story for revitalization.
However, the local hotels and ryokans (traditional-style inns) were beginning to close due to an aging population. This was creating a bottleneck for economic growth, and was hurting the growing tourism to the village.
In response, the mayor started another new project. In 2018, the village established a company called EDGE to build new accommodations that can help visitors better enjoy the nature and culture of Kosuge. In August 2019, NIPPONIA Kosuge Genryu-no-Mura was founded through this new company. It is a bold endeavor to turn the traditional homes across the village into one hotel accommodation.
A Word from Mayor Funaki
“The land of Kosuge is 95% forest, and 45% of our population consists of the elderly. Many of our ryokans and inns are closing because they don’t have anyone to take over the business. This situation will only continue, and unless we innovate the promotion of our village, we won’t be able to sustain our tourism. Renovating our traditional houses is one way we are innovating. We believe that this is a new beginning for our village, and we are determined to succeed in our new initiative.”
Stay at NIPPONIA and Become a Villager
NIPPONIA Kosuge Genryu-no-Mura is a village-wide accommodation center with the concept of “turning a village of 700 into one hotel.”
The NIPPONIA staff are all residents of Kosuge, and most of the food is made using ingredients produced in the village. Extending beyond the hotel building, the lodging experience includes hiking in nature, cycling through the village, and interacting with the locals. By staying at NIPPONIA, you can help preserve the culture, history, and lifestyle of Kosuge.
In a typical hotel, the rooms, restaurant, and spa are all under one roof. However, NIPPONIA is a dispersed hotel, meaning different facilities are spread throughout the village. Traditional homes have been renovated into guest rooms, the village bathhouse is the spa, and the villagers themselves are the staff. NIPPONIA is a project that brings the entire village together into one hotel.
A Word from the Manager Shunya Taniguchi
“We hope that staying at our hotel can be a break from your work and help you relax. Our goal is to make this a place where you can feel refreshed in mind and body, and be reminded of life’s beauty. Whether you explore the village or lounge in your room, we want you to enjoy a comfortable stay.”
Be a Guest at a Mansion of 150 Years
Soon after the project began, a number of traditional houses were converted into hotel rooms. The main hotel Ohya opened in August 2019, and consists of two buildings and four rooms. In August 2020, two additional homes were renovated into the Cliff Side Villa (Gake-no-Ie).
The Ohya was renovated from a mansion once owned by a rich sericultural family. Characterized by its sturdy beams and broad pillars, the Ohya preserves its 150-year-old history.
The lounge area, which features a chic circular table, used to be a place where villagers gathered together to watch TV during the 1960s.
Each of the four rooms has its own unique taste. Once a study, the Creator’s Twin is characterized by a large window that will inspire a creative mind. The Bamboo View Twin has two lofts and a veranda that opens on a bamboo forest. Renovated from a traditional warehouse, the Hanare Dozo Twin has a beautiful bath and a hallway that resembles an art gallery. Last but not least, the Garden View Suite features a quaint Japanese garden, a spacious veranda, and a room that used to be a parlor.
All the rooms have queen-sized beds with Simmons mattresses. The bathrooms have a selection of amenities supplied directly from the producers, and the baths themselves are spacious and use a quality igneous rock called Oya stone.
Enjoy Seasonal Dishes and Outdoor Activities
The Nagayamon was once a residence for the mansion’s servants. Today it is a restaurant called 24sekki. Historically, Japanese people divided the year into twenty-four seasons called “sekki” in Japanese. At 24sekki, you can enjoy a course meal made using local, seasonal ingredients.
Delivered to your room, breakfast consists of traditional dishes made from local staples, such as freshwater fish, miso, konjac, and pickles.
The abundant nature present in Kosuge also makes this place ideal for outdoor activities. These include farming experiences, fishing, and hunting. Enjoy the fresh air as you explore local life in and around the village.
Additionally, you can explore the village, go river fishing, hike to a waterfall, and experience other seasonal activities with a local guide.
● On Kosuge Walk, village residents lead a tour of the village and its nature through hidden paths familiar only to locals.
● Gather around a campfire and enjoy evening conversations with villagers and hotel staff before dinner.
● Rent an electric bicycle and ride comfortably around the village.
● With Bijin-no-Yu, you can bathe at the locally-owned Kosuge-no-Yu onsen for free.
● Experience wasabi harvesting near the clear waters of Tama River.
● Take a guided tour of the waterfall and stream near the source of Tama River.
● Experience farming with village residents at the NIPPONIA Farm.
A New Style of Hotel in a World with COVID-19
In August 2020, the Cliff Side Villas were opened. Because Kosuge is located on a steep mountainside, it is not uncommon to see houses built on cliffs. The villas were renovated from houses built on one such cliff a century ago. These rooms feature large windows that present a stunning view of the mountains.
Also, the Cliff Side Villas are promoting a new form of tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the rooms at NIPPONIA are dispersed, there was never a worry of crowded spaces. But at the new villas, guests can check in and out from their rooms, enjoy meals in their rooms, and experience a variety of outdoor activities.
While they had to temporarily close during April and May, the hotel was praised for these new initiatives. Since reopening in June, they have become a popular accommodation center for many guests. Yet the hotel has to continue renovating abandoned houses to bring in more visitors and revitalize the village. For this, the hotel needs our support.
An ambitious hotel in a tiny village of 700 people. Once the pandemic settles down, stay at NIPPONIA and experience an authentic village lifestyle in Kosuge.
*Note: Communication between funders and the hotel is done in English or Japanese.