Giving visitors a taste of Hyogo’s country life

​TANBA, Japan (The Japan News/ANN) - An empty house in a rural part of Tanba has been converted into a guesthouse for foreign visitors who want to step off the beaten path and take a breather in the countryside of Hyogo Prefecture.

An empty house in a rural part of Tanba has been converted into a guesthouse for foreign visitors who want to step off the beaten path and take a breather in the countryside of Hyogo Prefecture.
 Masahiro Ashida, who is from Nara Prefecture, has refurbished the house where his grandparents once lived in Tanba’s Aogaki district. Ashida has traveled extensively overseas and developed a keen sense of “omotenashi” hospitality while working at a hostel in Chuo Ward, Osaka.
 “I want visitors to enjoy the pleasures of the countryside to the fullest,” Ashida said.
 As a child, Ashida frequently visited his paternal grandparents’ home, in what was then the town of Aogaki, to help with the farmwork. After becoming a university student, Ashida went on extended trips to New Zealand, Canada and other nations, and he also lived in Australia for a while. The friendly interactions he had with people on his travels sparked a desire to one day open a guesthouse in a rural part of Japan.
 Until May, Ashida worked for about five years as a manager at the hostel, which mainly catered to foreign tourists.
 During his time there, Ashida noticed that many visitors from overseas longed for something more than the typical dishes of takoyaki octopus balls, sushi and ramen, and the tourist spots outlined in big city guidebooks. “I wanted to show them the nature, cuisine and local sights of the countryside,” Ashida recalled. As this feeling grew stronger, Ashida decided to open a guesthouse in a place that held many fond memories for him.
 Ashida’s grandfather died three years ago, leaving their 80-year-old two-story wooden home empty — his grandmother had passed away earlier. Ashida renovated the kitchen, bathroom and other parts of the about 160-square-meter house.
 He acquired cooking experience when he worked part-time at restaurants while he was a student, so he also is a dab hand at home cooking. Ashida is using connections built up during his years at the hostel to introduce foreign visitors keen to go sightseeing in a rural area to his guesthouse, which is called haruri. “I want to make this a magnet for inbound visitors,” Ashida said.
 Many spots in Tanba have beautifully colored leaves in autumn, and nearby Mt. Iwaya is popular with paragliders. Ashida plans to provide guests with information on these and other tourist attractions they can visit in the area.
 “I always had a close relationship with my grandfather,” Ashida said with a smile. Now, in this home where many of his grandfather’s ornaments remain and it almost feels as if he’s still there, Ashida is welcoming guests from around the world.
 Call (0795) 88-5515 for inquiries.

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