Fuurin-Oka. It means “Wind Bell Hill” in Japanese, and to immerse yourself in it is nothing short of magical. If you have never experienced a traditional Japanese “Bed & Breakfast” you are missing out on a truly lovely little adventure. And the best part? It can be found right in our own backyard on Bainbridge Island – a gorgeous, brief ferry ride that takes you just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the city to make it feel like a mini-vacation.
Fuurin-Oka is a detached Japanese style guesthouse nestled in a grove of bamboo for added privacy, a short walk from the main house where owners Steve and Renee Dole reside. A view of the Olympics and stunning sunsets which can be enjoyed from the large patio (I recommend doing this while eating luscious figs right off the tree nearby) are just a few of the pleasures in store for you….my husband and I also laid on the edge of the orchard and did a little stargazing at night. Built by renowned Island architect Ron Konzak, the home and Fuurin-Oka were purchased by Steve and Renee Dole in 2011. She is a Master Gardener and event planner, and according to Renee, he is the official Chick Whisperer.
Yes, there is actually a wind bell on the property, and a leisurely stroll also reveals elderberry, kiwi, grapes and hazelnuts. a plethora of fruit trees (apple, pear, cherry, and plum to name a few) a coop with a variety of laying chickens, gardens burgeoning with both Japanese and western plants, and two of the most gracious and lovely people that serve as impeccable, yet down to earth hosts for your stay. They are the kind of couple that you just want to hang out with – and you might find yourself torn between the peaceful solitude and the engaging company!
It’s hard for me not to just go on and on about this gem of a find…so many reasons to love it. It is a perfect honeymoon or anniversary spot for those who may not have the time or resources to get on a plane and take off for a week or two, yet you really do feel like you got away. Steve and Renee are exactly the kind of hosts you dream of – having perfected the art of providing you all the privacy you desire, while also attending to your every need, and delivering your traditional Japanese breakfast (or an equally scrumptious American style alternative) to your door at your requested time. We were treated to both versions of the breakfast….and let me just say, wow. It is just not to be missed. Sitting in our kimonos after a languid candlelit soak (our second, because frankly who can possible get enough of that kind of indulgence??) in the traditional deep soaking tub set within cedar lined walls, we all but devoured our artfully displayed meals…..made with fresh, local, organic produce – much of which they grow right there on the grounds. Our Japanese breakfast on Saturday morning was so beautiful I hated to wreck all the work that went into it by eating it – we dove into a delicious medley of miso soup, stuffed rice balls, and sushi rolls filled with local vegetables, punctuated by edible flowers and garnishes. Sunday morning brought buttermilk pancakes with local blueberries, insanely tasty ham cups with home made pesto, eggs from their “girls” in the coop, and a mix of fruits, jams and granola all made from the bounty on their property.
Yes, I could go on, but I’d rather just go back (and I intend to). This is one of those places that once you’ve been, you want to go back….in the spring, in the winter, in the fall. I want to experience the very unique mood that each season undoubtedly brings to this wonderful place.
Thank you so much Steve and Renee for such a beautiful, relaxing weekend. We will never forget it, and we wish you many blessings!
And thanks also to my wonderful husband Mike Rothmeyer – who helped me style the shots all weekend. I love taking you to work with me!