Stay at an Upscale Japanese Inn—Ryokan

Chikusenso Mt. Zao Onsen Resort & Spa

Offering the highest level of hospitality, in the grand natural setting of Zao


Two hours from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train, Togatta Onsen, nestled in the foothills of the Zao mountains, has long been known as a cure spa with quality hot springs. It was here that Chikusenso Mt. Zao Onsen Resort & Spa opened, in April 2010.

The gardens at Chikusenso, which occupies an area of 20,000 square meters within Zao Quasi-National Park, faithfully reflect nature in Zao. The winding river, the waterfall, the deciduous forest reflecting the changing seasons, and rustling bamboo groves are all there for guests’ enjoyment. The inn’s buildings, based on the “modern Japanese” architectural concept, make abundant use of natural materials such as wood, stone and washi (Japanese paper) to create a calm, healing atmosphere. Interiors were designed by Yukio Hashimoto, who created the décor for The Peninsula Tokyo and other notable buildings

The inn’s 32 luxurious rooms combine the best of Japanese hospitality with the functionality and conveniences of a modern hotel. The inn offers guests tours of a sake brewery, a cheese-making factory, and a chance to experience the tea ceremony and other aspects of Japanese culture.

Relaxation in an open-air bath or spa treatments in pristine natural surroundings provide healing experienced by all five senses, making your stay at Chikusenso an unforgettable one.


Address: 88-11, Aza Uenohara, Togatta-Onsen, Zao-machi, Katta-gun, Miyagi Prefecture
Telephone: 0224-34-1188
Rates: Per person per night, including dinner and breakfast, from 66,150 yen (not including tax, service charge and hot springs tax)

Seizan Yamato

Traditional Japanese hospitality for an out-of-the-ordinary getaway


Close and convenient to the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Ito hot springs resort on the Izu Peninsula has many popular inns. Seizan Yamato, on a quiet mountaintop, is replete with the atmosphere of the traditional Japanese ryokan. Welcomed by the warm smile of the female proprietor, guests check in and admire the view of the Japanese garden from the large windows of the entrance lounge.

In their room awaits a welcome drink for relaxation after the trip. A selection of crisply starched yukata cotton kimono for wearing around the inn is there for the choosing (female guests only).

Seizan Yamato is notable for its high standard of hospitality, a level also reflected in its cuisine. Guests choosing the kaiseki traditional Japanese full-course meal can choose from among three types of aperitifs, main courses and desserts to create a meal that matches their mood and their tastes. The cuisine, making abundant use of seafood from the nearby bay, mountain greens and other delicacies in season, is the essence of the ryokan experience.

But the most appealing feature of Seizan Yamamo is the high quality of its hot springs. Created from two hot spring sources on the inn’s grounds, the blended waters are renowned for leaving the skin soft and silky immediately after bathing. The two main baths offer scenic views of the town of Ito and Sagami Bay. After cleaning late at night, use of the respective baths is alternated between men and women, so guests can enjoy different views during their stays. Guests who wish to bathe privately can use the private bath available (prior reservations necessary). Soaking in the wooden tub in the private bath, families or couples can enjoy a relaxing bath experience.


Address: 203 Oka, Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture Telephone: 0557-32-0300 URL: Rates: Per person per night, including dinner and breakfast, from 25,350 yen (includes tax, service charge and hot springs tax)


Pristine nature and the spirit of hospitality make a stay here an unforgettable experience


Myojinkan, three hours away from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station by limited express and a 30-minute drive from Matsumoto by taxi or the inn’s complimentary shuttle bus, sits 1,050 meters above sea level in a majestic gorge in Yatsugatake Chushin-kogen Quasi-National Park. Opened in 1931, this long-established inn has maintained its ingrained tradition of hospitality through numerous refurbishings over the years.

A member of the prestigious Relais et Chateaux French network of independent hotels and restaurants, Myojinkan is the first Japanese hostelry to meet the criteria for “Green Key,” the international eco-label for tourism facilities. Accommodation is in Japanese- or Western-style rooms, with open-air or semi open-air baths. Bed linens and other appointments are carefully chosen and attention is paid to the smallest detail to ensure guests’ comfort. Bicycles and automobiles are available for rent: a wealth of outdoor pursuits awaits guests, who can enjoy a leisurely ride and savor nature in the area around the inn, or hike or fish to the sound of birds in the trees.

Food served at Myojinkan includes vegetables from the inn’s own organic farm and many seasonal ingredients sourced locally. For dinner, guests have a choice of menus: kaiseki, a traditional Japanese full-course meal; innovative, modern-style Japanese dishes; or French cuisine. The French cuisine, prepared by a chef certified as a macrobiotic advisor, is very popular among health-conscious guests.

The shared baths include a “sleeping” bath, designed so that bathers can gaze at the skies from a sleeping position; a large main bath with an open-air section; a mixed bathing open-air bath; and a “standing” bath 120 cm deep, from where bathers can admire the panoramic views of the gorge in front of them.


Address: 8967 Iriyamabe, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Telephone: 0263-31-2301
Rates: Per person per night, including dinner and breakfast, from 23,650 yen (includes tax, service charge and hot springs tax)

Hoshinoya Kyoto

Enjoy the culture of Kyoto at an inn of traditional beauty built in the sukiya “tea house” style


Arashiyama, in the northern part of Kyoto, was the playground of the nobility during the Heian period (794–1192), when Kyoto was Japan’s capital for the first time; it is one of the areas that still most vividly retain the city’s traditional character. Board a small boat from the foot of Togetsukyo Bridge, symbol of Arashiyama, for a 10-minute ride upriver. As the walls of the gorge gradually narrow, the sounds of civilization fade away and the surroundings take on a mysterious air, Hoshinoya Kyoto comes into view.

Built on the site of the private retreat of Suminokura Ryoi, a wealthy 16th-century Kyoto merchant, Hoshinoya consists of a suite of buildings housing 25 guest rooms, all with views of Arashiyama and the Oi River. The buildings feature traditional elements of Japanese décor such as Kyoto-style patterned paper, lattices, rough-plastered walls and roof tiles, fusing the master craftsmanship of Japanese artisans with modern comfort and convenience to create a sophisticated ambience. A variety of room types are available, and each is decorated differently. The rooms are furnished with specially commissioned tatami sofas or bench sofas designed to ensure maximum comfort. Relaxing on a sofa and admiring the view will bring guests closer to the poetic sensibilities of the gorge’s scenery so beloved of court nobles and literati of the past.

Created with long-stay guests in mind, Hoshinoya Kyoto offers a varied menu of cultural activities, for example flower arrangement lessons, introduction to the art of incense appreciation, morning temple worship (zazen and sutra chanting), a walk through Kyoto dressed in kimono, or a ride to lunch in a rickshaw. Your stay at a high-end Japanese inn like Hoshinoya Kyoto will allow you to savor the traditions of Kyoto to the fullest.


Address: 11-2, Genrokuzan-cho, Arashiyama, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto Prefecture Telephone: 075-871-0001 URL: Rates: From 59,000 yen (room rate for up to two persons staying one night. Meals additional. Includes tax and service charge.)

Japan Offers All Sorts of Accommodations for Your Comfort and Pleasure

In addition to deluxe traditional inns and premium hotels, Japan has a wide variety of lodgings ranging from pensions or minshuku (bed and breakfasts) to small inns and hotels and so on. Travelers can feel friendliness and casual comfort in these accessible accommodations, which offer a different kind of enjoyment and are also a great way of getting to know the “real” Japan. Use the JNTO website accommodations search function to research options by accommodation type and in your price range.