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Recommended Luxury Ryokans in Japan


Apr 13th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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Recommended Luxury Ryokans in Japan

Hello everyone,
We are going to Japan for 10 days at the end of August and I want to splurge and spend one night at a fancy Ryokan. The main criteria I'm after are: 1) private open-air onsen 2) great food 3) great view...should be easy, right?

From the research I've done initially, the Hakkone area is going to probably have the nicest views. We have Xed out Gora Kadan because it looks too commercialized.
As such, we were thinking about Hakone-Ginyu , but some of the trip advisor reviews are mixed. My general worry about this area is it will feel really touristy.

I can't find any reviews of Senjyuan (www.senjyuan.jp) nor have I heard much positive about the location, but the inn looks lovely.

Would greatly appreciate any recommendations others have. My sister swears by the Fodor's forums so I thought I'd give it a go.

Thanks to everyone in advance
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Apr 13th, 2009, 11:58 AM
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We wanted to book Hakone-Ginyu very much but it was fully booked. It is very popular with the Japanese and gets booked very fast but they may have cancellations. I would recommend that you consider it. We actually stayed at Yoshimatsu, which is also in the Hakone area. It is a top-rated ryokan and more traditional than Ginyu. We booked one of their rooms with a private onsen in the small garden and enjoyed it a lot. I highly recommend it.

Here is a link to Yoshimatsu:


You can also check the following website for others:

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Apr 13th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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I can recommend two wonderful places but I am not sure either has private onsen.
These ryokan are rated as two of the most beautiful Ryokans in all Japan. They are at Onsens in the mountains west and slightly north of Tokyo: Chojukan at Hoshi onsen and Osenkaku at Takaragawa Onsen. Chojukan is a stunning Ryokan with beautiful old wood buildings set among a beautiful stream. The antique buildings and setting indoors and outdoors are wonderful and they provide wonderful Kaiseki dinners in your room. Here the main bath is indoors in an antique bath house. However there is a pretty outdoor one also. Osenkaku Ryokan is a nice building but not quite as beautiful as Chojukan however the Onsen is a stunning outdoor pond in an incomparable setting by a rushing river with rising steam all outdoors. We spent one night and almost a full day in each and that was wonderful.
You would have to take the bullet train from Tokyo to Jomo Kogen (less than 2 hours) station then either take small local buses or get a driver to pick you up at the train station but these places are so wonderful. Both are available through japan guest houses but you can email them directly for info especially at Chojukan. Here's a website with photos of Takaragawa onsen: http://www.anatol.org/projects/rachel/springs.html

Email Noriko Okamura at Chojukan at Hoshi onsen at: [email protected]
Email Osenkaku at Takaragawa Onsen at: [email protected]
Here are some photos of chojukan but these do not do it justice at all. I have many nicer ones but an not sure how to post them w/o giving everyone in the world access to them. http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...a/chojukan.htm

Noriko may even remember me although it's almost two years ago now.

If you are only going to stay at one of these and want the more classic Ryokan experience you might go for Chojukan. The buildings here are stunning too. The kaiseki service in the room there was wonderful. You could always go to Takaragawa onsen as a day trip to see/experience this beautiful outdoor onnsen at Takaragawa.

Many people also love the ryokan on Myajima which you can find in searches on this site. There are many posts on this site for Ryokans and Onsen in Japan. You might try a search with either word. Also, you might want to search hawaiiantraveler as he goes to Japan often and has amazing insights.

Good luck.
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Apr 13th, 2009, 07:32 PM
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I love Paulo's recommendations! We have been to Osenkaku and it is wonderful. We are booked into Chojukan in October 2009 and can't wait!

Hmmmmm strange to hear your take on Gora Kadan. It is tops on my list and quite a few people I trust and admire who live in Japan. Rated definitely above Ginyu, but I can't get myself to pay that much for the two nights that I want in the rooms I would want, lol.

The end of August is a very hot and humid time in Japan. The farther north you go or up elevation, the more comfortable you will be. For scenic beauty and comfort at that time of year besides the aforementioned, I would recommend checking into these places. The first place is not a "splurge' by any means, but for scenic beauty and someplace special, it's hard to beat:




these places would be hot and humid








There is a start for you. Good luck!

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Apr 13th, 2009, 07:33 PM
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BTW, your sister is a very smart person
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Apr 13th, 2009, 11:12 PM
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I have not stayed at Gora Kadan. I am sure it's a wonderful and lovely place, but I do not believe that you would have a complete sense of being away from it all there. The train to Gora screeches directly past Gora Kadan, so twice every 15 minutes you would get to enjoy hearing it rumble by. Also, from the looks of the place from the train, Gora Kadan is not a small and intimate inn.
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Apr 14th, 2009, 11:44 AM
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Thanks to everyone for their replies. Hawaiiantraveler, I have read your trip reports with great interest and you seem to be the resident Japan expert! I noticed you really enjoyed the Ryokan outside of Minakami (Osenkaku) - the one I am most interested in right now is Senjyuan (www.senjyuan.jp), which is actually in the town of Minakami, though I haven't heard great things about the town itself. What were your impressions of the town as you passed through there? It has a very positive write up in the Japanese Spa book (http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Spa-J.../dp/080483671X) and seems a little more off the beaten track. thanks in advance for your continued help!
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Apr 14th, 2009, 12:39 PM
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I am not the resident Japan expert by far but have been there a few times.....

Minakami is a small town in the mountains that I ate lunch at and waited for my bus in on our way to and from Osenkaku. Not much to say other than it is the quintessential small mountain village, maybe a few blocks square.

The scenery around the village and on the way to Osenkaku is spectacular. Have not been to Senjyuan so can't comment but if this is your first ryokan, I believe either one will suffice. Minakami is way up there in the Japanese Alps and definitely off the foreign tourists well beaten path(not the Japanese).

The town of Minakami seemed to be more of a ski town as all the small hotels and ryokan seemed to be catering to the ski business in winter and hiking/rafting business in the spring thru fall seasons. The mountain air is crisp and clean and the rivers and lakes are clean and the waters are crystal clear.

There are ski areas and water rafting rivers that surround the village. Hope this helps!

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