By Rory Jackson
The Oki Seaside Hotel Tsurumaru known to the locals as 'Tsurumaru' is an ocean front complex with its own yacht harbor. Nearly every room faces the ocean and the environment of the Oki Islands Geopark surrounds you in a tranquil mix of salty ocean waves and deep green hills. The restaurant is a modern wood and glass building designed by architect Kazuo Teramoto, an Oki local. Inspired by the sails of the yachts that berth nearby it feels right at home. The food is famously popular with the locals and this piece of architecture is a great place to enjoy the finest seafood available in the seas of japan.
There are two wood cabins that make up the premium rooms, and each can fit a family (up to six people), with two separate bedrooms and a lounge room. There's a bathroom, refrigerator and TV as well as the standard amenities you would expect. The cabins are quaint and comfortable and right outside the entrance to the restaurant. The boats berth mere meters away from the front of your room and there's a sundeck with chairs to enjoy enjoy the ocean breeze and sounds of boats knocking in the harbor. It's a unique experience I've never had before and made for an amazing stay.
The standard rooms in the main building are less spectacular but still make for quite a pleasant hotel stay. They all face the ocean so you still get a view and that amazing ocean breeze. All the rooms are Japanese style and range in size from 8 tatami mats to 12.5 tatami mats (the standard measurement is 2 tatami mats of floor space per person). The rooms are brightly lit, as the ocean side wall is open to the sunshine, and they all come with a bathroom, refrigerator and TV.
The restaurant provides some simply beautiful food, specializing in cooked and raw sea food. It's nearly all sourced from local Oki providers and it's incredibly fresh. There are some unique and challenging local dishes like the Turban Shell and Rainbow Scallop, a delicacy that is particularly popular and intriguing (if you want to take the easy way out don't eat the intestines of the snail), and the delicious Seaweed Noodles that slide down your throat with slimy ease. There are more conventional options if you're not up for a challenging meal, including sashimi, oyster and tempura. My favorite was the Fisherman's Soup, crafted out of fish, onion, tofu and just the right amount of spiciness, it's a warm and hearty home-cooked broth that has been absolutely perfected by the chef.
As an optional extra Tsurumaru offers night cruising on a yacht designed by the hotel owner. It's a luxurious and unique experience to be cruising around the coast line of Nishinoshima with the twinkling lights of the local hamlets reflecting off the water. On a good night the skies glow with a myriad of stars and the sea twinkles with the bioluminescent plankton that burn blue in the black of the sea. The yacht is lit underneath by bright blue LED lights and has a large warm timber and cushioned interior.
The Tsurumaru hotel is a delightful experience, I really enjoyed my time there and dream of returning. The restaurant was a highlight, but the harborside setting and lovely room made for an idyllic stay, and topped off by the night cruise it's easy to say that this hotel provides a unique and top class service.
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