The Yomiuri Shimbun OWANI, Aomori — Yamani Senyu-kan, a long-established hot spring inn where writer Osamu Dazai (1909-48) stayed, in Owani, Aomori Prefecture, is now accepting guests for the first time in four years.
With the start of the Reiwa era, the inn is aiming to attract new customers, including foreign visitors.
Established in 1872, Yamani Senyu-kan, is the oldest inn in the hot spring resort town of Owani, which flourished from the Meiji era (1868-1912) through the early Showa era (1926-1989).
The inn is known for hosting Dazai while he recuperated from a suicide attempt at age 20. Dazai was a native of Kanagi, currently called Goshogawara, in the prefecture.
Despite the inn’s popularity among Dazai fans, it closed in the spring of 2015 due to the aging of the owner and declining number of visitors to the hot spring resort area.
In autumn of 2017, the main building and its dozo earthen storehouse were designated national tangible cultural properties.
Keisuke Kikuchi, 52, the fifth-generation owner, took over the inn’s management from his mother. Following the national designation, he renovated the earthen storehouse as he wanted to make use of the historical inn, and opened a Western-style restaurant in August 2018.
The inn reopened on April 27, the first day of the 10-day-long holiday, ahead of the 110th anniversary of Dazai’s birth in June and a possible increase in foreign tourists before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
The inn features 11 rooms and a free-flowing hot spring.
Its two adjoining eight-tatami and six-tatami mat rooms facing south take in ample sunlight and command a nice view of nearby rivers and mountains. Dazai is said to have stayed in the rooms.
The inn serves a Japanese set meal featuring local dishes for breakfast. Guests can also stay overnight without meals included, an option geared toward foreign and solo travelers.
“It’s a nice inn with atmosphere. I was able to relax there,” said Kentaro Watanabe, 38, a company executive from Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, who stayed at the inn with his wife.