As mentioned above, Chirorin-mura isn’t really a hut. But we just had to include it here on Hokkaido Wilds because it is one of the most interesting, engaging, and eccentric places you’ll stay at in Hokkaido. The host, Abe-san, built the place by hand over 25 years ago. In the main dining/living quarters, there are three converted buses making up the ‘walls’ of the building. The gravel-floored eating area is home to a gigantic charcoal barbecue area, where Abe-san cooks up a huge yaki-niku grilled meat dinner for his guests. The sleeping quarters are upstairs in a large communal hanging out space, full of retro furniture and tables. Lining the room are large two-person tents – think capsule hotel, but with tents. The highlight of your stay – if you can read Japanese – will be the free after-dinner karaoke. Bathing is a basic affair, consisting of two large tubs. One night’s accommodation plus dinner and breakfast is 5,000yen per person. Guests are welcome and encouraged to bring their own drinks. In the non-snow months, guests are treated to wood-fire heated baths in huge cauldrons. Really, you can’t make this place up.
Bookings must be made over the phone, in Japanese. Abe-san confirmed that he’s happy to have guests stay who can’t speak Japanese, but booking should be made by someone who can speak Japanese.
5000yen per person. Includes a huge dinner and breakfast. Bath and bedding, as well as karaoke, is also included.
Heating: On the phone, an audibly concerned Abe-san said “are you sure you want to stay here? There’s lots of gaps in the walls and doors, so the place is quite drafty. If don’t want you to get the wrong expectations.” True to his word, the gargantuan sleeping quarters are heated by one largely ineffectual kerosene heater, to be controlled only by Abe-san. “It’s a bit temperamental,” he explained. The underfloor heating wasn’t working when we were there, so we couldn’t make full use of the huge kotatsu table with attached communal quilt. “I’ll get that fixed for next time,” gushed Abe-san. The eating quarters’ ambient temperature doesn’t really get warm per se, but there are two massive heaters at either end of the charcoal barbecue that emit a huge amount of heat. You’ll be peeling off layers anywhere within about 3 meters of them (but putting layers back on again beyond that). The stove at the far end is a home-made waste-oil heater. “I get waste oil free from the mechanics down the road,” beamed Abe-san.
Water: There is plenty of cold and hot water available. If you need more hot water for drinks, just mention it to Abe-san and he will get onto it.
Kitchen/cooking: There are no guest cooking facilities.
Bedding: All bedding is supplied.
Elecricity: There are plenty of outlets in the upper sleeping quarters.
Toilets: There’s one outdoor toilet, close to the sleeping quarters. There’s an indoor toilet also, but this is only accessed from outside. That is, you need to go outside, walk around the building, and enter the toilet from there. Both toilets are basic but not-smelly long-drops.
Cell reception: In the sleeping quarters, the mobile signal is weak but present. In the eating area on the ground floor, there’s no reception – probably because half of the building is buried in snow in winter.
Abe-san is present at the lodging, and always willing to please. He greeted us upon arrival wearing a full racoon-tail hat.
We wouldn’t really recommend Chirorin-mura for more than a couple of nights. Haidee measured the indoor temperature of our sleeping quarters as 4°C. So it’s not the best place to try to warm up after a long day ski touring. Stay here for one or two nights just to experience the pure novelty of the place, and then move on to some less drafty accommodation in the area, such as the Horotachi Lodge at the ski area (7,000yen per person including two meals) or the Shumarinai Lake Cabins (7,500-9,500yen for one cabin, sleeps 6 people).
Chirorin-mura Hut Trip reports
Chirorin-mura Hut Photo Gallery
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