Finding good, friendly and convenient accommodation while on holiday is half the battle won. Staying at the Nature Inn Hanashin on Rebun Island though, is even more than that. Apart from offering nice rooms and fantastic food, the nature loving family who runs this place knows the island inside out and is more than happy to help you plan your walks, make suggestions on where to go and tell you where to find the flowers currently in bloom. I would say they are the perfect hosts!
The Nature Inn is situated on the east coast of the island, a five-minute drive from the ferry terminal in Kafuka. It offers great views across the ocean towards Rishiri Island. The hotel, which can be defined as an ecolodge, is divided into two wings. The main building offers nice tatami rooms with shared bathrooms, while the newer annex provides equally nice tatami rooms but with en-suite bathrooms (toilet and washbowl), some of which have ocean views. The shared sento (Japanese hot bath which, unlike onsen, do not draw their water from a natural hot spring), has an indoor as well as an outdoor bath. A luxurious pre-dinner soak feels perfect after a long day of walking.
The staff were so well prepared when we arrived that I was stunned. You might think to yourself: 'Japanese are famous for being well prepared and organized'. Yes, that’s true, but in this case the efforts were not limited to the accommodation, but included preparing the perfect hiking plan as well, including English maps and other information.
After a brief stop at the Inn to drop off our luggage, we were taken to the trailhead which we had decided on, although, not before the staff had made sure that we had enough drinking water and some lunch to take with us. What a fantastic service! I should mention that the shuttle service to and from the trailheads depends a bit on where and when you want to go. In our case we enjoyed the full service (drop-off and pick-up) for the Momo-no-iwa course starting from Kafukai and ending at Shiretoko. For the Four-hour course, however, we used the public bus; the bus stop is right in front of the Inn.
Dinner consisted of wonderful seafood dishes, including nabe (hotpot), sashimi, grilled white fish and tempura, washed down with a wonderful, cool Sapporo classic in the form of the local beer that is only available in Hokkaido. A must-have! Breakfast was also pretty substantial: eggs, grilled salmon, green salad and other typical Japanese dishes like seaweed salad or green leaf vegetables with sesame seeds—all very delicious!
The atmosphere in the lodge in general and especially during dinner was very friendly and totally relaxed. Guests shared their experiences with the staff and each other, while receiving more suggestions for the next day. All this made us feel extremely welcome!