Hello, I am Kouta Sugiyama, a designer. Today I’d like to talk about an inn called Matsubaya in Minakamimachi, Tonegun, Gunma Prefecture. Matsubaya is located along the Tone River in the Minakami Hot Springs area. Minakami is one of the hot spring areas within the prefecture that rivals other hot spring areas such as Kusatsu and Ikaho.

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I’m sure a lot of people have already been to Matsubaya, but I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never heard it. So I thought, if I’m embarrassed about it, I should go and learn more! I’ve spent these past two months going and coming back. Needless to say, Matsubaya has its own hot springs. But above all, its greatest selling point is its soba noodles made out of buckwheat flour from Minakami. They have a real soba master who will make your noodles right before you eat them.

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They also have the most unbelievably airy shaved ice! Topped with their homemade confections these shaved ices were superb.

Simply put, my mission was to boost Minakami through Matsubaya. So first, I had to learn as much as I could about the town of Minakami and Matsubaya. Whenever I went to Minakami, I explored and inspected the area and did those with the eyes of a traveler (but of course I conducted meetings too).

If you try to imagine things to some extent such as the purpose of travel and how you’d like to travel, you’d realize the things that are missing!

First time:
– A trip to Gunma from Tokyo with a friend (without a car)
– Aside from lodging at Matsubaya, the purpose of the trip will be decided at the destination

Second time:
– Go to Minakami with a friend in a rented car from Tokyo
– Explore the environs of Minakami

Third time:
– Go to Minakami with a friend in a rented car
– Enjoy doing activities
– Stay at other inns

Etc.

By bullet train (the Joetsu Shinkansen), it’s only 75 minutes from Tokyo to Jomokogen Station! Speaking of this, the journey was a flash. By car, it’s only 3 hours from Tokyo to Minakami! Speaking of this too, the journey was also a flash…I think.

Minakami is famous for being a place where one can fully enjoy activities surrounded by nature. You can go rafting, canyoning, riverboarding, canoeing, bungee jumping, paragliding, etc. In the winter, you can go skiing and snowboarding. There’s so much to fully enjoy and there is an abundance of activities during all four seasons. I went rafting and it’s something I recommend during this season.

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When you try to come up with different situations, you’d have to explore, explore, explore! While soaking in a hot spring, you can compare the food and activities of other inns. By checking things out and experiencing things for yourself, you’ll be able to see things you’ve only read about or heard about in a different light. After experiencing the good things about Minakami, I’d have to raise its profile and publicize its advantages.

I used to wonder if having fun could be my job. And that time has come. But of course I’m not just playing around. There’s a mountain of things to be done such as putting systems in place that guarantee profitability, figuring out operations and others. But it’s still not a job where I’m just making full use of my five senses in having fun and eating delicious things. Right now, I’m just trying to grasp everything at full blast, and when things begin to take shape, I’ll write again.

I hope you’ll visit Minakami!

If I continue doing this job, I’ll surely have soft and smooth skin from bathing in the hot springs.

Ahhhh, this is a job that’s absolute heaven!