Seisetsukan Farmstay (two night stay)
See the bottom of this post for booking details.
We met our host, Fujimi-san, at 16:15 at Matsuba station on the Akita Nairiku Jukan railway line. A lot of tourists got out at this stop and had buses waiting.
We drove straight to Seisetsukan through lovely farmland scenery. I wasn’t entirely sure what our accommodation would be like– I assumed a small room with a kitchenette– but I was blown away to see we had an entire HOUSE to ourselves.
Fujimi had kindly picked up our luggage from Kakunodate station earlier, so Dee and I unpacked a few things and I walked around saying stuff like THIS IS SO AMAZING I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS OUR PLACE OMG. I think Seisetsukan has this guest house for up to seven people housed in different rooms but the kitchen, dining area, bathroom-laundry and two toilets are shared facilities. As there were no other bookings we had it all to ourselves!
We used the time before dinner to have our showers and I put some of our clothes on to wash. There was a clothes hanger outside which Fujimi brought inside for me and hung it up in a corner of the room.
Fujimi and her mother brought in our dinner and again I was just blown away by what had been prepared for us. There were fried vegetables such as eggplant, green beans tossed in a delicious peanut sauce, a plate of lightly steamed vegetables such as sweet potato and lettuces, daikon and picked cabbage, pickled plums, my new favourite smoked burdock root (which Seisetsukan produce themselves), miso soup and a plate of apples and persimmon (also a new favourite, Tohoku seemed to be covered in persimmon trees as I saw them everywhere):
Dee and I were quite tired so after dinner we relaxed a bit before going to bed.
I had a very nice ‘life is GREAT’ moment when I woke up and this is the first thing I saw:
I went out on to the balcony and admired this view for a while:
Fujimi and her mother arrived soon after with our breakfast. This time we had rice, vegetable soup, leafy greens with grated radish, steamed veg, fried sweet potatoes, pickled cabbage, sweet beans, daikon and fruit. Again so very good:
After breakfast Dee and I went for a short walk around the property. Seisetsukan grows and processes different vegetables and a few people were coming and going. Our living quarters in the house were upstairs, and downstairs is an area where some of this food processing and business takes place:
After that we chose to relax and Dee spoke to her friends back home while I caught up on email and such.
Our lunch snack was a great surprise for me and something I’d hoped to try in Japan: home made mochi with sweet adzuki bean paste. This was so good, I ate way too much (including Dee’s share as she doesn’t eat beans of any kind). We also had a side of veg and the wonderful smoked burdock root and two giant apples:
In the afternoon, Fujimi took us for a drive and we went to a supermarket. For a geek like me who enjoys foreign supermarkets more than the common tourist attractions, this was so much fun and there was a Daiso in the back which stocked some Akita inu merch, so we bought quite a few things because seriously, who can resist such a gorgeous pup printed on everything? I bought some small hand towels for myself (but lost one somehow on our travels which I was a bit upset about).
Fujimi briefly stopped to pick up some chestnuts a friend had left for her, and she later prepared them for us. Lovely big sweet chestnuts:
Fujimi showed me how to make a kind of mochi with kinako, which is roasted soybean flour. She’d cooked some rice (about one cup uncooked rice) in the rice cooker and I mashed it up with one of the big sticks used for this purpose. Sorry, I don’t know what this particular big stick is called, it’s like a surikogi which is a Japanese pestle but some are cut on an angle at the end while others aren’t on an angle. After a while the rice in the pot begins to clump in to one big ball and that’s when we broke off ping pong ball sized bits, rolled them in to slight egg shapes and put them on a plate lined with a mixture of kinako and sugar. Simple, but so good. I’ve since made these back home using peanut powder until I can get my hands on kinako:
The mochi was put aside while Fujimi and her mum prepared our dinner. This time we had mashed sweet pumpkin moulded in to a cute pumpkin shape, some veg tossed in a delicious miso sauce, a mixture of beans, pickled veg, the smoked burdock root, a vegetable and udon noodle soup and fruit:
We had an early night as Dee was quite tired. Our beds were so comfortable so we had another good night of sleep. And then it was time for our last breakfast at Seisetsukan. This time, some rice, miso soup, beans, steamed veg, nori (Dee loves this), veg and fruit:
We said our farewells to Fujimi’s lovely parents then Fujimi drove us to Kakunodate station at 09:15, where a festival was being set up. Unfortunately for us the festival started at 10am and that was the time of our train! So we boarded the red Akita shinkansen headed towards our next destination, Ichinoseki.
I booked our Seisetsukan stay through Semboku Green Tourism: https://semboku-gt.jp/en/stay/seisetsukan/
I’m not sure how to arrange having the house to yourself. It was just lucky for us that there were no other bookings, so I suggest you contact Semboku Green Tourism through their website and ask if there are other bookings on your dates, as this means you share the house’s facilities.
I emailed questions in English, sometimes using Google Translate. I was communicating with Fujimi and I was able to discuss our dietary requirements without a problem. I asked if we could have lunch provided as we didn’t have a car or means to prepare food on our own and lunch was provided for a small additional fee. Payment was cash only the day we left Seisetsukan and I was given a receipt.
As you can see I had no problem with vegan food being provided. Fujimi and I had a good conversation about vegan foods and the hidden not-vegan stuff not many people are aware about. From my photos I hope you can see that our food options were plentiful, healthy and delicious. We ate so well and I was always very full after a meal, sometimes I couldn’t eat the fruit I was that full.
The language barrier wasn’t an issue. I was able to speak enough basic Japanese (I’ve been learning for about eight months at this stage), and Fujimi speaks English enough for us to get by and I used Google Translate at times. So please don’t worry if you can’t speak Japanese! And of course if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you will be okay! Please feel free to reference this blog post if you are veg*n and want to book a farmstay/homestay with Semboku Green Tourism. https://semboku-gt.jp/en/
If you have ever considered a farmstay/homestay, please check out Semboku Green Tourism! They have some profiles of all the farmstays signed up. I was drawn to Tohoku because I had read that only a tiny percentage of visitors to Japan go to Tohoku, as most go to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto instead. So I researched Tohoku and the decision to go there was pretty much immediate.
We greatly appreciated being able to rest and take it easy at Seisetsukan, in preparation for our days becoming busy once we were on the road again.
If you would like to see a video of Seisetsukan, please check out this video created by WabisabiTV. It’s not in English and you’ll need to skip forward to the 6:34 mark.
Thank you to Fujimi-san and Mr and Mrs Kadowaki for welcoming us in to their home. Thanks also to Semboku Green Tourism.