The Slice-of-Life Anime Hanasaku Iroha Is Like a Relaxing Onsen Vacation

With its stunning art and animation, anime often so perfectly captures Japanese scenery that it can be difficult to distinguish between an anime scene and a photograph. While it cannot truly live up to the real thing, those who wish to take a trip to Japan can get a taste of the country’s beauty and tradition through many slice-of-life anime series. Hanasaku Iroha is an especially wholesome series that takes viewers on a relaxing vacation in Kanazawa, Japan.

Set in a traditional Japanese inn and onsen, Hanasaku Iroha follows the spirited city girl Ohana as she is sent to live with her grandmother, the stern owner of a hot springs inn. When she arrives, Ohana quickly realizes that her grandmother will offer her no special treatment, expecting her to work in order to pay off her expenses. In this slice-of-life anime, Ohana juggles work, new friends and life in a Japanese inn, stirring up mischief, drama and fun along the way.

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A Stay at a Traditional Ryokan

A popular experience among vacationers and locals alike, travelers in Japan often stay a night or two in a traditional Japanese inn, known as a ryokan. With tatami-matted floors, shoji walls and onsen baths, ryokan are perfect places to experience Japanese culture, scenery and hospitality. Along with the relaxing onsen and beautiful scenery, ryokan commonly provide yukata to wear around the ryokan and onsen, as well as a comfortable futon to sleep on and a kaeseki meal — a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner often involving small dishes of local and seasonal delicacies.

Inspired by the Yuwaku Onsen in Kanazawa, Japan, the old-fashioned Kissuiso is the ryokan at the heart of Hanasaku Iroha. Although many young girls would expect a dream vacation after being sent to live at a ryokan, Ohana is met with a strict grandmother who expects her to work instead. Ohana spends her days learning how to be a waitress at Kissuiso, providing viewers with an inside look at the workings of a ryokan. The anime series not only presents Ohana’s job as a waitress but also explores other jobs around the ryokan. Ohana’s interactions with the cooks, maintenance staff, managers and even guests offer a glimpse at the work ethic and passion that fuels the ryokan experience.

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Food, Festivals and Fun

Although Ohana is hard at work as a ryokan waitress, she also gets to have fun on her time off. Whether it’s taking a soak in the onsen, enjoying the ryokan’s food or taking part in the local festival with her friends, Ohana has plenty of opportunities to experience all that the ryokan has to offer. Ohana may have grown up in the bustling city of Tokyo, but her new life at the old-fashioned countryside ryokan is just as full of drama and antics to keep her entertained.

Hanasaku Iroha viewers are sure to enjoy the experience themselves as they watch Ohana take part in ryokan life and enjoy the amenities and festivities. The beautiful art and animation leave a remarkable impression, making the food look especially mouthwatering and the festival lights absolutely magical. Although the Kissuiso staff is worried about the ryokan’s waning popularity due to it being more old-fashioned than the surrounding modern ryokan, viewers will find the traditional aesthetic of Kissuiso’s amenities and onsen so enchanting that they will wish they could become regular customers themselves.

While it may not come close to the real thing, a wonderful vacation is waiting for those who watch Hanasaku Iroha. The stunning art and animation of the slice-of-life series so beautifully capture the scenery and experience that ryokan and onsen offer. Meanwhile, for those who enjoy learning about traditional Japanese locations, festivities and pastimes, Hanasaku Iroha is a must-watch.

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