Yoshiyasu Sato, Chairman

Japan Association of Secluded Hot Spring Inns

General Manager of Daimaru Asunaroso Inn at Futamata Hot Sorings, Fukushima. Deputy Chairman and founding member of the Japan Ass ociation of Secluded Hot Spring Inns. Served as Deputy Chairman from 1975 through 1984, when he was appointed Chairman.

From the late sixites through the early eights when we were involved in getting the Japan Association of Secluded Hot Spring Inns off the ground, many member inns were in isolated areas well off the beaten path and barely maneged to keep the light on.Roads wedged deep in the mountains were in poor shape and unsuited for automobiles.It look time to get places.Reaching many of the mountain hot spring lodges required shouldering a pack and hiking in.
Back then,solitary inns in remote areas were avoided as unsophisticated and behind the times. The dramatic improvement in road access to our original thirty member inns today makes it difficult to recall what it was like in those days. Improved access is also one of the reasons many people now choose secluded hot springs as destinations.At the same time, one also hears travellers complain that with good roads and modern building the inns are not rustic enough, that they don't match their image of what a secluded hot springs inn should be.
The times are constantly changing.Transportation networks improve and options increase. Traveler's tastes in facilities and food perpetually evolve, as will the hot springs areas that offer added value and attain popularity.If anything is timeless, it is our yearning for travel, an almost instinctive longing to rediscover our humanity or get back to nature.The objectives of travel may change, but there will surely be inns at the places where we rest along the way.
The notion of secluded hot springs inns we have cultivated over the last thirty years certainly does not mean crumbling old buildings and baths, or represent some ideal of Japanese culture itself.No matter how long its history or how beautiful the view, if a hot springs inn is incapable of nurturing the kind of "anonymous soldiers" who will sweat through shoveling the snow and put heart and soul into maintaining the inn, the inn and its springs will surely disappear. The key is people.
As Japan ages and faces population decline, it will become more and more difficult to maintain the natural environment deep in the heart of the mountains. To protect and maintain a kind of homeland for the Japanese soul.-a place people can find peace and reconnect with the simple things before returning refreshed to their everyday lives.
We believe the key to the character of secluded hot springs is their role in connecting people to one another-innkeepers deeply rooted to the land who know how to soothe the weary traveller. No matter how challenging the environment, such inns take pride in their deep mountains and rustic communities, protecting the environment and an archetypical Japanese landscape.
Workshops and exchange opportunities for members have played a vital role in our association's activities. Looking to the future, as we expand nationwide we seek to nature successors who will dedicate their energies to the development of their communities while protecting the global environment and Japan's precious hot spring heritage.
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