Top 10 Onsen Ryokens

Ryokan are Japanese style inns found throughout the country. More than just a place to sleep in, ryokan are an opportunity for one to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality, incorporating elements such as tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style onsens and local cuisine, making them popular with both Japanese and foreign tourists alike.

[Ogwaya ]

[Ogwaya private hot-spring bath ]

No two ryokans are the same, and the quality of ryokans can vary dramatically. There are entry-levels basic, no-frills ryokan experience, all the way to premium exceptional ryokan experience with wonderful food, a exceptional room, a Japanese cypress bath, a view of a Japanese garden and first-class service that comes with a luxurious price tag.

Having shared last week the Top Onsen towns in Japan, now we look at the BigGlobe’s 2015 survey results of the Top Ryokan in Japan. The survey results were based from numerous factors including Onsen-users’ feeling and gauge of the ryokan’s spring quality, food quality, hospitality, room cleanliness and setup, scenery from onsens … Separated in 2 sub-categories for Eastern & Western Japan, the results are as follow:

Best Onsen Ryoken

[Best Onsen Ryoken / Hotel tabulated results by BiGlobe for 2015]

East Japan (Best Ryoken / Hotel)

Picture of Ryoken / HotelRank / Name of Ryoken / HotelLocation / Description
Dai-ichi Takimotokan
Dai-ichi Takimotokan 2
1) Dai-ichi TakimotokanLocated in Noboribetsu.
(059-0595 Hokkaido, Noboribetsu, Noboribetsu Onsen-cho 55 , Japan)

This ryoken is a 5-minute walk from Jigokudani hot springs, and a 12-minute drive from Lake Kuttara. There is a bus stop right in front of the property, which is a 15-minute bus ride from JR Noboribetsu Station. A chargeable shuttle bus is available to/from JR Sapporo Station if requested at time of booking.

Review: 8.6/10
Hotel Sakurai
Hotel Sakurai 2
2) Hotel SakuraiLocated in Kusatsu.
(377-1711 Gunma, Kusatsu, Kusatsu 465-4, Japan)

This ryoken is located within a 10-minute walk to the Yubatake hot water field. It is also conveniently located a 3-minute walk from the Kusatsu Onsen bus terminal and a 20-minute drive away from JR Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station. Guests can visit the Gunma Safari Park with a 10-minute drive.

Review: Not Available, less than 5 reviews.
Hotel Ichii
Hotel Ichii 2
3) Hotel IchiiLocated in Kusatsu.
(377-1711 Gunma, Kusatsu, Kusastu 411, Japan)

Located in the centre of Kusatsu Onsen, this hotel-ryoken is situated right in front of the Yubatake hot spring source.

Review: 8.3/10
Akan SatoTsuruga1
Akan SatoTsuruga
4) Akan Yuku no Sato TsurugaLocated in Kushiro, by Lake Akan.
(085-0467 Hokkaido, Akankohan, Akancho Akankoonsen 4-6-10, Japan)

Set on the shores of Lake Akan, Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga, this ryoken is just 150 metres from Ainu Kotan Folk Village, and also a 10-minute walk from Akandake-Jinja Shrine. Shuttle service is provided to/from Kushiro, Obihiro, Kitami and JR Sapporo stations.

Review: 8.7/10
FujiyaHotel
FujiyaHotel 2
5) Fujiya HotelLocated in Hakone.
(250-0404 Kanagawa, Hakone, Miyanoshita 359, Japan)

Fujiya Hotel features Meiji Era architecture set in Hakone’s natural beauty. Located just 500 metres from Miyanoshita Station, the Gora area and Hakone-Yumoto Train Station are also just a 15-minute drive. Hakone-Jinja Shrine and Owakudani Valley are about 10 km away. This hotel does offers a free shuttle from nearby Miyanoshita Train Station.

Review: 8.2/10
Nisshinkan 2
Nisshinkan
6) Manza Onsen NisshinkanLocated in Tsumagoi.
(377-1528 Gunma, Tsumagoi, Hoshimata Manza Onsen 2401 , Japan)

Set 1800 metres above sea level in Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, Nisshinkan features 9 hot-spring baths. Manza Onsen ski slope is 650 metres away with a scenic Mount Shirane, an active volcano with crater lake 5 km away. Manza Kazawaguchi Station is a 45-minute drive from this hotel-ryoken and Karuizawa Station is 53 km away.

Review: 7.6/10
Hakone Kowakien
Hakone Kowakien 2
7) Hakone Hotel KowakienLocated in Hakone.
(250-0407 Kanagawa, Hakone, Ninotaira 1297, Japan)

Hakone Hotel Kowakien offers a relaxing getaway just a 15-minute walk from Kawakidani Train Station. Hakone Open-Air Museum and Chisuji No Taki Waterfall are both about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Hakone Gora Park is 2 km away, and Lake Ashinoko is about a 20-minute bus ride away. Hakone Hotel Kowakien offers a unique themed onsen (Yunessun) including chocolate, rose, sake, coffee, wine, green tea, charcoal... among their themes. Throughout the day, at each theme show (e.g. red wine show), they would pour red wine over everyone in the pool). That would be similar for each of the other themed pools.

Review: 7.4/10
Kusatsu Onsen Hotel Village
Kusatsu Onsen Hotel Village 2
8) Kusatsu Onsen Hotel VillageLocated in Kusatsu.
(377-1711 Gunma, Kusatsu, Kusatsu 618, Japan)

Kusatsu Onsen Hotel Village is a 5-minute drive away from Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort. This hotel is a 25-minute drive from JR Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Train Station and a 30-minute drive from Manza Onsen Ski Resort. A free shuttle is available from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Stop, which is a 5-minute ride away.

Review: 7.8/10
Asaya 2
Asaya
9) AsayaLocated in Nikko.
(321-2598 Tochigi, Nikko, Kinugawaonsen Taki 813, Japan)

Asaya provides chic Japanese accommodation that displays flower arrangements throughout. A bus stop is located right in front of the property, and shuttle buses are available from Utsunomiya Train Station, an hour away, at an additional fee. The hotel is a 13-minute walk from Kinugawa Koen Train Station. Nikko Toshogu Shrine is a 40-minute drive away, and Edo Wonderland Nikko theme park is a 10-minute drive from the property. This ryoken does allow some of the hot spring baths to be reserved for private use for a fee.

Review: 8.6/10
Nyuto Onsen 1
Nyuto Onsen 2
10) Nyuto Onsen kyo Taenoyu (乳頭温泉郷 妙乃湯)Located in Tohoku.
(2-1, Komagadake, Obonai, Tazawa-Ko, Senboku City, Akita 014-1201, Japan)

This ryoken can be reached by a limited express train to Akita Shinkansen Tazawako Station, and from there, taking the public bus to Taeonyu Onsen Bus stop (~ 50minutes), there after, one will reached by walk in about 1 minute. This is a modern, well equipped ryokan that sits beside the Sendatsu River, featuring a mixed gender outdoor bath overlooking a waterfall, as well as single gender indoor baths. It is located within Towada-Hachimantai National Park, above the picturesque caldera lake Tazawako.

Review: Not Available. But the word of mouth is very favourable on this ryoken.

However this ryoken cannot be easily booked online at the moment. It can be done either by phone (0187-46-2740) or by email (reserve@taenoyu.com) at the moment. If there are new online booking options, I will update the link here.

West Japan (Best Ryoken / Hotel)

Picture of Ryoken / HotelRank / Name of Ryoken / HotelLocation / Description
Kagaya
Kagaya 2
1) KagayaLocated in Nanao.
(926-0192 Ishikawa, Nanao, Wakuracho Yobu 80, Japan)

Boasting a long history of hospitality and gorgeous hot spring baths, Kagaya is a renowned ryokan accommodation offering authentic Japanese experience. It provides free shuttle services to/from the nearest JR Wakura Onsen Station, a 7-minute drive away. This ryoken is a 1-hour drive from Noto Airport.

Review: 9.2/10
Suginoi
Suginoi 2
2) Suginoi HotelLocated in Beppu.
(874-0822 Oita, Beppu, Kankaiji 1, Japan)

Boasting a number of pools and hot-spring baths, Suginoi Hotel offers free shuttle to/from JR Beppu Station, a 10-minute drive away. Hotel Suginoi is a 10-minute drive from Beppu Park and a 20-minute drive from Umitamago Aquarium. Centleisure Kijima Kogen Park is a 30-minute drive away.

Review: 8.7/10
Suimeikan
Suimeikan 2
3) SuimeikanLocated in Gero.
(509-2206 Gifu, Gero, Kouden 1268 , Japan)

Set between the Hida River and Japanese Alps, Suimeikan offers spacious rooms with a cedar-wood bathtub and mountain views. It has 9 hot-spring baths and a pool. This ryokan has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014. The indoor pool has a large sunroof, and the large public hot-spring baths have beautiful views. This ryoken is just a 3-minute walk from JR Gero Train Station, or a 10-minute stroll from Onsen-ji Temple. Gero Onsen Gassho Village is a 5-minute taxi ride away.

Review: 9/10
Arima Grand Hotel 2
Arima Grand Hotel
4) Arima Grand HotelLocated in Kobe.
(651-1401 Hyogo-ken Kobe 1304-1, Arima-cho, Kita-ku Kobe)

Located in the center of Kobe, this family-friendly ryokan is within a 15-minute walk of Arima Toy Museum, Stamp Museum, and Tosen Shrine. Zuihoji Park and Hosenji Temple are also within 2 km.

Review: Not Available at time of publish.

Hotel Urashima 2
Hotel Urashima
5) Hotel UrashimaLocated in Wakayama.
(1161 Katsuura Nachi-Katsuura-cho, Higashimuro-gun, Wakayama-ken)

It is a 5 minute walk from JR Kiikatsuura train station (on the JR Kisei Honsen rail line) to Hotel Urashima. Alternatively, it is a 3 minute boat ride from the port to the Hotel Urashima that is located on a peninsula. Hotel Urashima have both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths for both women and men (same gender only). In addition, there are also hot spring cave baths to experience. Some of the hot spring baths at Hotel Urashima are open 24 hours a day. The outdoor hot spring baths with views of the Pacific Ocean can hold up to 500 bathers.

Review: Not available.

Booking link is not available at the moment as well. Will be updated as soon as it is available.
Kinosaki Onsen 1
Kinosaki Onsen 2
6) Kinosaki Onsen Nishimuraya Hotel ShogetsuteiLocated in Toyooka.
(669-6101 Hyogo, Toyooka, Kinosaki-cho Yushima 1016-2 , Japan)

Set in the woods by Mount Kuruhi, Hotel Shogetsutei is 5 minutes from Kinosaki-Onsen Train Station on the free shuttle. It features beautiful outdoor hot-spring baths and a spa. Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway Station is 650 metres away, and Kono Yu Hot Spring is about a 10-minute walk. Sister hotel Nishimuraya Honkan, which has additional free-use hot-spring baths, is 700 metres away. Free-use bicycles are provided.

Review: 9.1/10
Aenokaze
Aenokaze 2
7) AenokazeLocated in Nanao.
(Wakazaki-8-1 Wakuramachi, Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture 926-0175, Japan)

7 minutes by car from Wakura Onsen Station. 50 minutes by bus from Noto Airport. Aenokaze, the sister onsen to Kagaya, has just large baths and open-air bath for both men and women. However the baths offer scenic views of the ocean of Nanao Bay.

Review: Insufficient Review at time of writing.

Hakusuikan
Hakusuikan 2
8) HakusuikanLocated in Ibusuki.
(891-0404 Kagoshima, Ibusuki, Higashikata 12126-12, Japan)

Overlooking Kagoshima Bay, Hakusuikan boasts an outdoor pool and a variety of spacious indoor/outdoor hot-spring baths, including a Sunamushi sand hot-spring. This ryoken is a 35-minute drive from Mount Kaimondake and a 30-minute drive from Kagoshima Flower Park.

Review: 9.2/10
Hyoe Koyokaku 2
Hyoe Koyokaku
9) Hyoe KoyokakuLocated in Kobe.
(651-1401 Hyogo, Kobe, Kita-ku Arima-cho 1904 , Japan)

Hyoe Koyokaku boasts a 700-year history and is the area's largest hot-spring baths. This ryoken has shared-use hot-spring baths, a red-water foot bath and 2 baths that can be reserved for private use. This hotel-ryoken is a 15-minute drive from Rokko Mountain. The Takarazuka Revue and Kobe Mita Premium Outlets are a 30-minute drive away.

Review: 9.2/10
Ogwaya
Ogwaya 2
10) OgawayaLocated in Gero.
(509-2207 Gifu, Gero, Yunoshima 570, Japan)

Ogawaya offers a hot spring bath with some rooms equipped with private hot spring bath. This ryoken is 3 minutes from Gero Station with its complimentary shuttle. Ogawaya is only a 5-minute walk from Takayama Furui Machinami (Takayama Historical District), and a 20-minute walk from the historical Gassho Village.

Review: 8/10

In terms of the ranking change versus 2014, from East Japan,

  • Ryokan Tajimaya (Kusatsu) dropped out of the top listing but could be still worth exploring
  • Jozankei View Hotel (Sapporo) and Furukawa Jozankei (Sapporo) both dropped out of the listing as well

From West Japan

  • Kamenoibesso and Yamano (both from Yufuin) from the last two position fell over the ledge of the top listing.

 

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