This was our first booking on AirBnB and we were so impressed with the level of hospitality shown to us by Gaku-san. We are luxury hotel owners from Thailand, the Land of Smiles & Unsurpassable Service, so we know a top host when we have the privilege of meeting one!!
From the moment we made our first enquiry to the follow-up queries through to our final booking and stay, Gaku-san was quick, concise, thoroughly helpful and gracious.
Cozy Mountain Cottage is perfect for a family of 4 (our kids are 8 & 6). There are 2 bedrooms, 1 twin and one with 4 bunkbeds. There is also a drying loft for ski gear (which Gaku-san generously lent us so we wouldn't have to rent!) which can double up as a spare sleeping area.
Whichever you opt for, Gaku-san will be staying in the other - this is a point to note for first time users like me who didn't read the fine print 'Private Room', as I'd assumed we were renting the entire house to ourselves! However, this misunderstanding turned into the biggest blessing as Gaku-san is the most gracious host. He picked us up at Joetsu-Myoko station (an easy, 2 hour direct ride from Tokyo), helped us rent a car, programmed our GPS and led us back to his lovely home. He settled us in, started & cleaned the fireplace every day, gave us amazing tips for day trips to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park (serene walk, onsen-bathing monkeys) and even accompanied us to the charming old 'chestnut-apple' village of Obuse + ancient centre of Nagano where he showed us Zenkoji Temple & found Toys R Us. Gaku-san was like our own private tour guide. He dug our car out of crazy snow drifts, shared his childhood toys, colour pencils and sleds with our children. He is AMAZING with children! He also instinctively knew when we needed family time & retired to his room to give us plenty of space.
I can highly recommend Gaku-san's tastefully laid-out cottage, it is set in the bright cedar woods like a snowy fairyland. There's a big open kitchen/dining area where we enjoyed many family meals together. The bathroom is a spacious with shower and heated tub and the views are incredible.
Don't miss the local onsen experience after a day's skiing at any one of the 4 or 5 ski areas within 5-10 minutes drive. We signed-up with Myoko Snow Sports at Akakura Onsen. Gaku-san also took us to Ikenotaira and confidently led our children down the slopes as I slowly pizza'd my way down! Eat at Cafe Onsen's Izakaya, cheap & yummy.
One highlight was definitely following Gaku-san on a 'Forest Snow Walk': we rented snow boots and poles for peanuts at the Myoko Visitors' Centre next door, the children enjoyed the nature museum there identifying stuffed animal, tracks & poo ;) We even saw a fox one night driving home!
Arigato-gozaimashta Gaku-san, we'll be back or see you in Bangkok soon!