In keeping with the region’s storied past, Zenagi is a three-room hotel designed in a large, centuries-old farmhouse that is as exclusive and luxurious as it is tasteful. Categorized as an all-inclusive “expedition hotel,” Zenagi provides guests with local foods and adventure tours throughout the Kiso countryside. And “adventure” is no exaggeration, as outdoor expeditions are led by highly accomplished athletes, including former Japanese Olympians.
Zenagi has pioneered “Kiso slow-food:” organic, locally grown produce distinguished by the region’s traditional cuisine, harvested day-of and prepared under the supervision of Michelin-starred chefs. Local foods include the nationally-coveted matsutake mushroom, signature Kiso beef, and the regional Shinshu salmon. The vegetables too are worth savoring. In addition to sourcing ingredients from organic farmers, Zenagi is able to harvest some of its own excellent plant-produce in the wild.
An accomplished documentary producer most famous for covering extreme sporting events, Muneyuki Okabe’s mission is to remind the world of Japan’s grand bounty. He chose Kiso in part because it is a crossroad that unites the country’s natural features: mountains, rivers, and forests. Kiso is a place where one lives well. It is remote, but not too distant from the capital. It is serene, but the landscape beckons thrill-seekers. Its quality food grows abundantly, and it is a place where history reverberates off of every rock, tree, and riverbed. The sum total conjures a deep sense of awe.
Zenagi has integrated the amenities and comforts of the present and packaged them with respect for the past. And by doing so, they have created much more than a luxury getaway. They have created a blueprint for sustainable hospitality going forward.