In spring 2015 Oku Japan renovated an old wooden building and opened a representative office in the village of Chikatsuyu, where we are delighted to be part of the local community. Our branch office is a lovely traditional wooden building right on the route of the Kumano Kodo Trail as it passes through Chikatsuyu. We now offer the opportunity for clients to stay in this simple but atmospheric accommodation, called Oku no Yado Chikatsuyu.
Our Chikatsuyu branch colleagues Mayumi and Satoe are local residents.
Satoe was born and raised in Tanabe city, Wakayama Prefecture, close to the Kumano Kodo trail. From a young age, she has had an interest in international culture, and spent a year in Pennsylvania in the United States as an international study during her time as a university student in Osaka.
After graduating, Satoe worked as a barista for 4 years, gaining experience in service and management in the hospitality industry. She enjoys making people happy through making coffee, and with this passion she has entered free-pour latte art competitions, making it into the quarter finals twice.
After moving back to her hometown she is now enjoying life surrounded by beautiful nature, mountains and the sea. Satoe loves visiting coffee shops around Japan and traveling overseas to experience different cultures, food, and meeting new people.
Mayumi grew up in Wakayama to the north of the Kii-Peninsula. At 20, she took her first trip overseas to Canada, which piqued an interest in international cultures. After working in Osaka for a number of years, she moved to Australia to study Interpreting and Translation, and later Languages.
Living in Australia for four years, she returned to Japan after graduating, first working in trade affairs before joining Oku Japan.
Mayumi enjoys visiting shrines and temples, as well as traveling in both Japan and overseas. There are still many places that she would like to visit, and she enjoys speaking with our guests about their home countries.
Mayumi and Satoe are there to support our guests if they need assistance on the trail or simply to answer their questions. They are always happy to say hello to clients when they stop by the office to share a special moment – and a cup of tea.
A stay in the building includes dinner, breakfast and a packed snack lunch for the next day on the trail. The location is ideal for exploring the village of Chikatsuyu. You can wander down to the riverside inn Minshuku Chikatsuyu and use the wonderful, large hot-spring baths there.
The building has hosted the whole Oku Japan team on their annual company retreats in 2015 and 2016. During the annual retreat, our overseas team members join Japan-based colleagues, and we exchange ideas for the future development of the company as well as sharing some wonderful moments.
We always sample the delights of Chikatsuyu as well as excellent regional cuisine at local restaurants, or from home-prepared bento lunch-boxes. This year, we even enjoyed a village barbecue with members of the Chikatsuyu community that featured Nagashi Somen, where chilled noodles are sent cascading down a split giant bamboo pole to celebrate summer. There was a great deal of laughter!
Because Kumano is an ideal location for cultural and community events, we also enjoyed a boat trip on the Kumano River, a Shamisen music performance in the lovely setting of our building in Chikatsuyu, and invigorating hikes in the Kii Peninsula.
Our local branch enables guests the unique opportunity of getting to know the local communities we work with. Our team can show you around the village and introduce you to local shopkeepers and villagers, who can offer a fascinating insight into what this rural lifestyle means to them.
Onaka-san is a farming specialist, taking care of abandoned farms, as well as tending to a blueberry orchard. His blueberries are known for their delicious flavour.
He is well-known in the community for his services and eagerness to lend a helping hand.
Oono-san is a farmer with a talent for making handicrafts and straw work.
He is warm and kind to speak to, and Oono-san’s morning routine involves drinking a coffee with Sakamoto-san and other local friends at the village cafe.
Sakamoto-san is well respected and thought of as a leader by many in the village.
He is very knowledgeable and highly skilled in various areas – his main expertise lies in his experience of the mountains and surrounding nature.
Yamanouchi-san moved to the village of Chikatsuyu from Eastern Japan to surround himself in nature. After working as a tour guide, Yamanouchi-san pioneered daily luggage transfer in the area and created his service Yama Shuttle.
An avid crafter, Yamanouchi-san enjoys creating postcards, keychains, and even trekking poles. Along with his creative pursuits, he likes to travel. In 2019, Yamanouchi-san visited Canada with his wife and took a road trip through the nature here, seeing waterfalls, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and wild bison as they made their way from Vancouver to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tatsumi-san is part of the I-Turn movement, in which people from larger cities move to rural regions and make a life there.
Arriving to Hongu from Osaka over a decade ago, Tatsumi-san later moved to Chikatsuyu with his wife and children and opened his cafe, Cabelo Coffee. Meanwhile, his wife runs a local hair salon – previously locals would often have to leave town just for a haircut.Aside from the incredible coffee beans he roasts himself, Tatsumi-san is an avid trail runner and has run the Kumano Kodo’s Kohechi route.
Nakamine-san was a local who left the region but later returned home as part of the U-Turn movement, where local people leave a region for economic reasons, but return in later like.
Now running Café Bocu, an organic café specialising in healthy lunches with brown rice, homemade miso soup, and natural yeast bread, Nakamine-san is enjoying the return to rural life with her family.