Zaborin Ryokan: A retreat where the quality and serenity of Japanese tradition is celebrated in a modern way.
Located in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, known for its volcanoes, hot springs and ski restorts. Zaborin is a contemporary Japanese inn that captures the spirit of the ryokan experience. Zaborin is derived from the zen meditative word “zabo” meaning to sit and forget. Amidst its own small forest of pine trees (‘rin’ = woods), Zaborin is a haven: a place to sit amongst the trees and to forget oneself. A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn. Ryokans are traditionally destinations in themselves, and many will travel distances for only one or two nights to sample fine dining and the hot springs at a specific ryokan.
At Zaborin, each villa has its own private hot spring, actually, two – one indoor and one alfresco, to enjoy the view in peace. Zaborin offers a unique take on the ancient multi-course ‘kaiseki’ menu which despite its simple presentation is packed with exquisite flavours of farm-to-table produce.
The location is of course the headline for this destination. This luxury ryokan completely embraces its natural resources. Built around its own mineral hot spring, its own woods with views of Mt. Yotei and surrounding land, this is a hidden gem with a landscape worth the trip any time of the year.
Mindful of its stunning advantages, Zaborin uses its natural hot spring water for underfloor heating as well as in the private springs within the villas. As well as heating in the winter, in the summer months, 6°C water from the volcanic spring is used to cool the rooms and also for chillers such as the wine cellar. The timber removed when preparing the land has not gone to waste. The exterior of the building has been covered in this as a protective layer. This wood is simply the off-cuts from timber mills which have been treated and used as cladding. Zaborin aims to be conscientious and respectful of its environment. They believe this is an ongoing process and continue to strive and improve attitudes to sustainability and the part played in the welfare of the environment.
Zaborin is about providing the traditions of a Japanese ryokan combined with modern comforts. The tradition of appreciating the pristine beauty of the nature around is made easier and more comfortable in this quiet hideaway in the woods. Guests are encouraged to move about the property and enjoy the open fire-places and reading areas, including a dedicated library. In addition to the Zaborin restaurant – which also offers private dining, “The Living Room” and Bar provides a place to meet and relax with coffees and teas throughout the day and more spirited drinks at night, including award winning whiskey from the local Nikka distillery.
Hokkaido born Yoshiro Seno is the visionary behind Zaborin’s unique ‘kita kaiseki’ menu. after working in Tokyo and New York with a new appreciation for Japan. His journey home began during his time in Tokyo, when he realised that the very meaning of “locality” has been diluted as produce becomes permanently available around the world. This sparked his return to Hokkaido some years ago to rediscover and re-immerse himself in a region rich with exceptional local produce.
For Seno-san, this means remembering that preparing ingredients and ‘being local’ is intertwined with each other and the process: from seed to foraging in the wilderness and bringing it to the table. Then, to apply the skill that culinary learning has given him without obscuring the essence of the ingredient itself.
There is so much to see and do while relaxing in Hokkaido and if you’re planning a visit, the scenery is truly spectacular any time of the year – take a look at their Instagram to see it in all seasons.
To find out more information or to make your booking, visit the website here.
Images: Zaborin Ryokan