Jun 11, 2010

Stay at Birke and Become a Fan!

Hutte Birke is a family-owned inn within a minute from Tazawako Ski Area. Why am I talking about them now in the summer? Well, here is the reason:

Hutte Birke

Mrs. Sato, the landlady of this minshuku, best known as Birke Eomeoni or Birke Mama, is an energetic and homey woman who can leave you a deep impression as, well, an enthusiastic Tazawako and IRIS promoter!

How she came about is an interesting story. For several years, Korean drama has been very popular in Japan. Winter Sonata was a mega-hit here, which has inspired many people to study Korean language. It is only natural to want to understand the content beyond translation. So she did—she started to learn Korean language, entirely embracing the culture as well.

To make the long story short, for her passion in Korean culture, filming of IRIS at Tazawako Ski Area was such a fortunate coincidence! Even more, when the filming took place in her neighborhood, she offered her place to a crew – just for a slim chance to be a help. As it turns out, he came back on the following day and asked her to share the place for Lee to change the wardrobe.

Her excitement from the day still remains strongly. She has written with more details in her blog, which has been visited by many. Today her inn is becoming one of the IRIS related spots. Guests can see the autograph of the star Lee Byoung-hun and IRIS-related photos displayed next to her family photos—as if it is her wall of honor to celebrate her extended family.

Autograph on the wall

She shares not only her IRIS collection but also a lot of tourist information on Tazawako Area. Talking with her would make you a fan of both the drama and Tazawako Area! That is why she is such an IRIS and Tazawako promoter!

She is admirable also for her savviness in Sansai, wild delicacies. Her meals consits of seasonal delicacies collected by her own hands in the neighboring wilderness. If you are interested in knowing how the locals really eat, she probably would be willing to show you!

Birke Mama!

Another specialty of her is special blend of tea—containing 16 different kinds of wild herbs. The earthy aroma and a hint of natural sweetness have been praised by locals including a chef of Momo-Ya, a restaurant highly conscientious about healthy and high quality ingredients. Now Birke’s tea has been served at Momo-ya as a part of brown-rice lunch special (macrobiotic-inspired).

Birke Blend, lots of good stuff!

List of herbs and its effects.

Drying her herb!

She has a charm that attracts people beyond languages and cultures. Her genuine hospitality makes you feel at home. She is someone who is trustworthy to put up a friend with, because of her compassion for people. That is why travelers from in and out of Japan keep on coming back! Perhaps with her, you can call Tazawako your second home!



She has many nostalgic things.

A welcoming message written by her sons when they were little.

All the rooms have tatami mats.

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