Surrounded by the lush forests and refreshingly cool air of Okawa Hatori Prefectural Park, British Hills is a mere two hours from Tokyo yet feels as though you’re on the British Isles – the occasional light drizzle included.
However, it is not just the natural beauty and pleasant climate that lures guests to British Hills. Founded in 1994 by Sano Education Foundation as a destination to experience British culture, language and crafts, British Hills is a vast resort comprising an English village, a manor house, an English garden, sports facilities and more, sprawling over a cool 59.6 acres. It is a gateway to the elegant world of classic British culture, authentic cuisine and the rich history of that powerful empire – all without needing a passport.
Sleep Like the Tudors
At British Hills, guests stay in one of the many guesthouses situated within its British village, featuring authentic buildings that are modeled after various architectural periods from the 12th to the 18th centuries, and named after notable people from those eras. The spacious Deluxe and Luxury rooms are decorated with antique furniture and offer modern luxuries such as large flat screen TVs and a select range of natural skincare products made from minerals, herbs and flowers, which are also sold by upscale department stores such as Selfridges and Harrods in London. For a different but equally nostalgic experience, opt for one of the Dormitory rooms which will transport you straight into the world of British boarding schools, complete with shared bathrooms on each floor.
Time to Brush Up Your Oxford English
Perhaps one of the most unique features of British Hills is that it gives visitors the exclusive opportunity to experience British culture and food while brushing up their English language skills. EFL-qualified teachers from Britain and other Commonwealth countries offer their broad insight into English language and culture to create custom language courses suited to each individual or group, regardless of nationality. Rather than studying in traditional classrooms, students learn English in real-life settings such as conversing over dinner or drinks at a pub or restaurant, which gives them the chance to engage in more than just the language itself. Those already confident in their English skills might want to try their hand at one of British Hills’ numerous culture and crafts classes, which include workshops in traditional British calligraphy, cooking, aromatherapy, jewelry-making, and snooker, perfect for exploring more of the many facets of British culture.
Enjoy a Quintessential British Tea or Dinner
The ultimate British experience implies tasting and enjoying classic English gastronomy. British Hills leaves nothing to the imagination with no less than four restaurants that cover every possible corner.
In the afternoon, take part in the tradition of four o’clock tea at the Ascot. Offering 23 varieties of tea, it is the perfect setting to read, chat and relax. Those who might enjoy a sweet treat paired with their drink should browse the café’s cake selection. In the evening, enjoy a complete fine dining experience straight out of a James Bond film at the Refectory. Guests are asked to dress their best to take advantage of an intimate dinner in this formal setting. Those who would rather experience a London pub environment can do so at the Falstaff, which serves British ales and traditional bar food such as fish and chips. Finally, for a nice in-between, there is the Executive Lounge. Offering cocktails and a lineup of only the finest Scotch, it is also a venue for live performances to accompany seasonal events.
Across these four restaurants of distinct atmospheres, there are many menus to choose from and no palate gets left behind. British Hills also offers seasonal specials that feature ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture, exclusively using fresh meat and produce from the region.
Special Offer for March 2019
Accommodation & Course Dinner
Until the end of March, guests can enjoy a special offer including a one-night stay, a course dinner starring sparkling nihonshu, and a buffet breakfast. For ¥23,000 on weekdays and ¥25,000 on weekends, you’ll enjoy a night spent at British Hills and a meal that pairs bubbly sake with hearty Japanese cuisine.
The course dinner begins with a glass of nihonshu. Great for those who are new to the sake universe, this particular variety has a slight scent of rice malt with a fruity and refreshing taste. As demanded by tradition, guests can enjoy the sound of the bell ringing as it is poured into their glass. The dinner kicks off with a Fukushima wagyu and vegetable salad, topped with a Japanese-style soy sauce dressing, followed by a bowl of the soup of the day to warm you up. Then, enjoy Japan’s winter gastronomy with some black mutsu fish on a snow crab cream sauce. The main course is the Date grilled chicken. Though a simple dish in theory, its taste is complex, born from the combination of chicken from Date city in Fukushima – known as one of the three most delicious chickens in the prefecture – grilled with salt and sugar to create a crispy texture, and accompanied with yuzu from Ten-ei village and white leek sauce.
Matcha lovers will relish the dessert plate, which features three types of sweets inspired by Kyoto’s signature tea. Taking the form of tiramisu, macaron and chocolate ganache, the bitterness and depth of Kyoto matcha and the sweetness of chocolate marry to complete the meal. Arranged to look like a traditional Kyoto garden, it is perfect for one last Instagram snap of your very British evening.
1-8 Aza Shibakusa, Ohaza, Tarao, Fukushima Prefecture
How to Get There
From Tokyo, take the Nasuno or Yamabiko Shinkansen to Shin-Shirakawa Station (about 1h20min) or the Express Bus from Shinjuku to Nishigo Bus Stop (about 3h). There is a shuttle bus from both Shin-Shirakawa Station and Nishigo Bus Stop to British Hills.
Words by Sybilla Patrizia and Lisandra Moor