Enjoy traditional Japan while staying in a family-run ryokan

The Top Ten Dreamy Japanese Ryokan – Part 2

This is the second part of our two-part introduction to the best and most beautiful ryokan in Japan. Ryokan are a form of traditional accommodation often located in rural resort areas and set amidst beautiful natural scenery.

This is the second part of our two-part introduction to the best and most beautiful ryokan in Japan. Ryokan are a form of traditional accommodation often located in rural resort areas and set amidst beautiful natural scenery. In these old-fashioned inns you can experience real Japanese hospitality, the very best local cuisine, traditional architecture, and luxurious facilities. All of the ryokan in our top 10 list are located in onsen (温泉) hot spring spa areas where you can soak yourself in natural mineral waters. In Part 2 we also introduce Japan’s most ancient ryokan!

6. Yunushi Ichijo

Yunushi Ichijo is located in the hot spring resort of Kamasaki Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture. This hotel has two kinds of bath which are said to have healing properties and be good for the skin. The main part of this inn is a beautiful four-story wooden building that was built in the early 20th century and it is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. Meals are served in private dining rooms and consist of traditional multi-course kaiseki (haute cuisine) meals featuring Sendai beef, Miyagi pork, fresh fish and seasonal vegetables served with local sake or wine. A variety of accommodation plans are available including suites which come with their own private outdoor baths.


7. Jinpyokaku Honten

Jinpyokaku Honten is a historic ryokan located in the hot spring resort of Kambayashi Onsen in Nagano Prefecture. The area is famous for the snow monkeys who also enjoy bathing in local hot spring waters! First opened in 1901 many illustrious literary figures have stayed at Jinpyokaku Honten including the novelist Natsume Soseki, the poet Akiko Yosano, and the Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata. This inn has both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, with some separated by gender and also some traditional mixed gender baths (which is quite rare these days). Meals consist of simple, hearty, healthy cuisine with Shinshu beef, koshihikari rice and fresh local vegetables. Vegetarian meals are available on request. Just six guest rooms are available, all of which are traditional in style but have all the modern comforts including free Wi-FI internet access.


8. Nishimuraya Honkan

Nishimuraya Honkan is located in Hyogo Prefecture’s Kinosaki Onsen, a famous coastal hot spring town which is over 1,300 years old. The inn itself is 150 year-old sukiya-style building with traditional guest rooms looking out over private gardens, and its own private art gallery. There is a large indoor cypress wood bath and an outdoor bath set in a grove of bamboo, along with a variety of outdoor stone baths, and indoor baths looking out over the gardens. Guests also have access to a private spa with relaxation treatments and massage services. Multi-course kaiseki meals are served with fresh local seafood, Tajima beef, and in the winter delicious Matsuba crab.


9. Hoshi Ryokan

Hoshi Ryokan is an ancient ryokan located in Awazu Onsen, Ishikawa Prefecture which is believed to have been founded in the year 718. A family-run business, the current generation is the 46th to operate the inn. Guest rooms are beautifully furnished in traditional Japanese style with sliding paper screens, tatami mat flooring, and charming moss garden views. Outdoor, indoor, and private baths are available for the guest’s use and the natural mineral waters are said to be good for the skin and circulation. This ryokan also has a bar, karaoke facilities, a souvenir shop and a raku ware ceramics gallery. Beautifully presented multi-course meals feature seafood fresh from the Sea of Japan, Ishikawa rice, and wagyu beef.Fresh crab is available in the winter.

Despite its long history, Hoshi Ryokan is actually the second oldest ryokan in Japan. The oldest is Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkaku which we will introduce below.


10. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkaku

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkaku was founded in the year 705 and is both the world’s oldest hotel and the world’s longest continuous business having been operated by 52 generations of the same family! Situated at the foot of the Akaishi mountains in Yamanashi Prefecture the Keiunkan inn boasts spectacular valley views, spacious sukiya-style guest rooms, four open-air baths, and two indoor baths with four different hot spring sources. The mineral waters contain sodium, calcium, and sulfate and are said to be ease stomach problems and aching muscles, and have a beautifying effect on the skin. Elaborate “mountain kaiseki” meals are served with savory Koshu beef and seasonal ingredients sourced from the local mountains and rivers.


Part 1

Michael Lambe