Traditional Lodging in Japan: Top 10 Japanese Ryokan Hotels chosen by Experts - Vikingess Voyages

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Traditional Lodging in Japan: Top 10 Japanese Ryokan Hotels chosen by Experts

Many foreigners dream about staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan hotel during their visit to Japan, but with all the great options out there it can be really hard to know which one to choose. While it is hard to find a ryokan hotel that doesn't offer impressive service to their customers there are still some ryokans that manage to stand out among the crowd.

Perhaps you're even familiar with one of the latest Japanese buzzwords "omotenashi", a word that implies a high level of hospitality. In Japan, the customer is definitely the king. With the tremendous expectations held by Japanese customers it is hard to go wrong when visiting a ryokan that has gained popularity among picky Japanese guests.

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Below is a collection of Japan's top ryokan hotels selected by The Ryoko Shinbun (旅行新聞) as a part of their award “Top 100 Hotels & Ryokans Voted by Industry Professionals” (プロが選ぶ日本のホテル・旅館100選) for 2017. Of course this list is based on the preferences of Japanese customers, so some of the ryokans might thus not be accustomed to foreign guests. I've gone through the available information about the top 10 ryokan hotels in the list and tried to give a detailed summary about their stance towards foreign travelers as well.

Hope you enjoy reading the list and that it can be of inspiration for your next trip in Japan!

【Japanese Ryokan Hotels Top 10】

① Fukushima: Bobata Onsen Yahataya 八幡屋(福島県 母畑温泉)

The winner of this award is a ryokan hotel located in Fukushima called Bobata Onsen Yahataya. The ryokan has a history going back to the Meiji period (1880), and has previously been ranked among top 5 hotels in the TripAdvisor ranking "20 Japanese Inns with more than 100 years of history" (available in Japanese only). It is one of only 5 accommodations in Ishikawa-machi.

This seems to be an extremely popular ryokan where it can be hard to find available rooms, so if you want to stay at the property it would definitely be advisable to make the reservation a long time in advance. They don't have an English website and their rooms are not for sale on any of the major online reservation sites either, so it is uncertain whether or not they are accustomed to foreign guests who don't speak Japanese.

Recommended for foreigners: Uncertain

Address:  75-1 Hida Bobata, Ishikawa-gun, Ishikawa-machi 963-7831, Fukushima Prefecture 

Niigata Prefecture is among other things known for its many hot springs (such as this unique winery hot spring), beautiful nature, elegant festivals and high-quality Japanese sake. If you want to get the most out of Niigata then number 2 on the list, Shiratamano Yu Kahou, would certainly be an excellent choice for accommodation.
Shiratamano Yu Kahou is located in the Tsukioka Onsen hot spring resort area, situated about 40 minutes by car from the city of Niigata. This area is known for its tranquil atmosphere, and it is not uncommon to see geisha girls strolling by in their gorgeous kimonos around sunset. This is where you find Shiratamano Yu Kahou, a ryokan hotel with a history going back to 1967. Back then the ryokan started out with only 8 guest rooms, but has gradually expanded, and it currently encompasses 108 rooms.
In addition to its marvellous Japanese garden, relaxing onsen and delicious cuisine the ryokan hotel is particularly focused on customer service, and in order to make sure that also foreign customers get well treatment they are conducting monthly training session for the employees in foreign languages. The ryokan hotel also made it to the top of the facility category.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address:  134 Tsukioka Onsen, Shibata-city, Shibata, Niigata, Japan, 959-2395

③ Ishikawa: Kagaya Hotel - 加賀屋(石川県 和倉温泉)

Ishikawa Prefecture is most known among foreign visitors for its capital city of Kanazawa where visitors can visit a former samurai residence, the local Noh museum where visitors can try out a Noh costume, or simply enjoy a stroll along the old town while wearing a yukata robe. If you however are up for an adventure out of the beaten track you might want to include a stay at the local favorite Kagaya Hotel in your travel plans.
Kagaya Hotel was ranked number 1 overall in this list of Japan's best ryokan & hotels for 36 consecutive years. The ryokan is located in the hot spring resort area Wakura Onsen (和倉温泉)  on Ishikawa Prefecture's Noto Peninsula, where it was established in 1906. Wakura Onsen is one of Japan's high-end onsen areas, with a history going back around 1,200 years. You can enjoy the view of the ocean from one of the many hot spring baths at Kagaya Hotel, and the hot spring water is believed to hold various positive benefits for the skin helping against among others rheumatism, neuralgia and atopy. If you're looking for some additional unique culture experience the hotel also hosts daily performances by their in house opera company (shows come at an additional 3,500 yen). The service at the ryokan hotel is impeccable, and earned the hotel top ranking in the Omotenashi (service) category of this year's award.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address:  926-0192 Ishikawa, Nanao, Wakuracho Yobu 80, Japan

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④ Shizuoka (Izu): Hotel Inatori Ginsuiso - 稲取銀水荘(静岡県 稲取温泉)
The Izu Peninsula has long been one of Tokyo citizens's first choices for weekend getaways, and on the peninsula you can find among others a beautiful coastline with an inactive volcano known for its magnificent view of the Izu Peninsula, what has been described as Kanto's best snorkeling spot, beautiful sakura spots with annual cherry blossom festivals, a heart shaped sea cave, a restaurants with an over 400 year long history just to mention a few.
With its high popularity among domestic travelers it is no surprise that you can find a high range of top-quality Japanese ryokan hotels. Among them is number 4 on The Ryoko Shinbun's Top 10 ryokan/hotel list: Hotel Inatori Ginsuiso.
Hotel Inatori Ginsuiso is situated on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsular, close to Kawazu where the mentioned cherry blossom festival is held. The Inatori hot spring area has a history that goes back to 1956 when the onsen first was discovered (湧出), and the modernization of the area started to accelerate after the Izukyu Corporation expanded the train connections in the area in 1961.
Hotel Inatori Ginsuiso is a dignified traditional Japanese inn that despite the rapid modernization has managed to preserve the traditional atmosphere. The ryokan hotel is especially known for its delicious Japanese cuisine, and was awarded 3rd place in the Meal Division of the top 100 ryokan/hotels.
The ryokan hotel is also renowned for their open-air baths with stunning views of both the surrounding sea and mountains.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address:  413-0411 Shizuoka Prefecture, Kamo District, Inatori, 1624−1

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⑤ Gunma: Hotel Sakurai 草津白根観光ホテル櫻井(群馬県 草津温泉)
Hotel Sakurai is situated in the famous Kusatsu Onsen hot spring resort area. Kusatsu Onsen is often ranked as one of the most popular hot spring resort in Japan, and here you can among other things enjoy the Sainokawara Park & Open-Air Rotenburo Bath and public bathhouses that visitors can use free of charge.
Hotel Sakurai is recognized as a 5-star inn, and has also been ranked number 5 in the ranking of Japan's best inns. In additional to their regular elegant and charming Japanese style rooms they also have elegant rooms that come with private hot spring baths if you prefer to bathe in the privacy of your room.

The ryokan hotel also has a stage where staying guests can enjoy seeing both drum performances and a yumomi show (Kusatsu visitors can also participate in a yumomi experience in the center of Kusatsu).

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address:  377-1711 Gunma Prefecture, Agatsuma District, Kusatsu, 465−4

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Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave me a comment or question below!

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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