Creating an endearing place in her beloved Tsurui Village
Tsurui Village is home to three different hot spring lodging facilities, one of which is the Tsuruimura Shitsugen Onsen Hotel that was built on the site of a former private lodge. It has received acclaim for its relaxing environment surrounded by the rich fragrance of trees. While some guests visit just to try the barrel-shaped sauna, many fans come for its free-flowing hot spring with a mildly alkaline, skin-friendly water. The owner Yuka Abe decided to retain the name “Shitsugen Onsen” since the hot spring has long been known by that moniker among the locals. Getting inspiration from the pastoral scenery of Tsurui, she decided on an interior design with a Nordic taste, selecting every piece of furniture for their tone, texture, and comfort. She also does plenty of the hotel work herself, including cleaning, social media promotion, and product selection for the shop. Though her days are always busy, she finds the work quite enjoyable.
Abe-san has always loved nature and hot springs, but what led her to open the Tsuruimura Shitsugen Onsen Hotel was a series of fateful connections. It began with her late grandfather who owned a business in Tsurui. Many years later, she heard about the abandoned site of the private lodge from a relative living nearby. And it was through her golf hobby that she met a Tsurui resident who helped her get support and guidance from Tsurui Village about acquiring the site. She also found the hotel restaurant’s chef through her work at FM Kushiro, requesting his services after experiencing his skill and personality. Abe-san believes that without these connections, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
But more than anything else, Abe-san did it because of her love for Tsurui. She feels that the village’s atmosphere matches her temperament, making her feel comfortable. Whenever she drives to Tsurui from Kushiro City, she never fails to be amazed at the scenic view of the Kushiro Marsh and the faraway pastures backed by the hills of Akan, with red-crowned cranes foraging nearby. She grew up taking this great nature for granted, but now she is always moved by its splendor. For the many foreign visitors coming to see the nature and cranes of Tsurui, she hopes they use the village as a base for sightseeing in the area and discover its comfort and convenience, just as she has.
Abe-san always values the bonds she forms with other people, and she finds meeting Tsurui locals to be fun and stimulating. “Tsurui is full of good and charming people. Maybe that’s why many charming people are attracted to it.” She is also grateful for the kindness shown by the villagers. The owner of Hotel Taito welcomed her business despite being a competitor, and even gives her advice on operating a hot spring. She loves the way the people of Tsurui are united in promoting the village, and she hopes to be able to make her own contribution. But she knows that there is still a lot of work to do for her hotel to become a place loved by everyone.