Traditional Lodging in Japan: Top 10 Japanese Ryokan Hotels chosen by Experts Part 2 - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, August 7, 2017

Traditional Lodging in Japan: Top 10 Japanese Ryokan Hotels chosen by Experts Part 2

This is part two of my post about Japan's top ryokan hotels, based on the annual 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 presented by the Ryoko Shinbun (you can find top 1-5 here). The list includes the best of the best when it comes to Japanese omotenashi service, cuisine and overall hotel atmosphere, and provides some excellent alternative for those out there who want to experience a truly outstanding Japanese ryokan. Please keep in mind that, as mentioned in the previous post, some of these ryokan hotels are mainly catered towards domestic guests, so some of them might not be accustomed to welcoming foreigners who don't speak Japanese. If you don't speak Japanese you might want to choose one of the hotels where they have English-speaking staff available. 

Without further redo, here's top 6-10:

Yamagata Prefecture is famous among tourists for among other things the hot spring area Ginzan onsen, the Mount Zaō ski resort and the annual August festival hanagasa matsuri (花笠祭り) held in Yamagata city.

Number 6 on the list of Japan's best ryokan hotels you find Yamagata's Hotel Koyo, a ryokan situated about 10 minutes by train and bus from Yamagata station. The easiest way to get there is to take the train to Kaminoyama Onsen Station, and from there you can take a shuttle bus to the hotel.
Hotel Koyo is known for its delicious Japanese food, outdoor rotenburo hot spring with marvelous view of Mt. Zao, Japanese style rooms with private onsen baths. However, the hotel doesn't have an English page and doesn't seem to sell their rooms actively towards foreign guests so it is uncertain how used they are to foreign guests.

Recommended for foreigners: Uncertain

Address:  5-20 Hayama, Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture 999-3242

With its location in the center of Japan Gifu has long been an important crossroad between the east and west of the country. Gifu is a landlocked prefecture most famous for the UNESCO World Heritage Site mountain village Shirakawa, and other popular destinations include the city Takayama (known as "little Kyoto") and Gero Onsen hot spring area also known as Bijin-no-yu, or “baths of beauty.” .
Gero Onsen Suimeikan is situated in this popular hot spring area, and at the ryokan hotel you can find 3 great onsen baths. The main onsen bath on the 9th floor is open 24/7 and offers a stunning view of the outside nature. Guests can choose between Western and Japanese room types after their own preference.

Staying guests can enjoy cuisine made by vegetables grown locally and handpicked by the hotels' chefs. The ryokan hotel also has a variety of restaurants and bars that can accomodate those who want alternatives to the Japanese meal. The ryokan hotel's helpful English speaking staff will also do their best to make sure that you'll have a memorable and relaxing stay.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 509-2206 Gifu Prefecture, Gero, Koden, 1268

Kagoshima Prefecture has played an important role as an international trading port with connection to the West going back to the 16th and 17th century. The city of Kagoshima has become known as the "Naples of the Eastern world" for among its beautiful bay location and the proximity to the characteristic Sakurajima volcano. 
Ryokan Ibusuki Syusuien is the first of two ryokan hotels in Kagoshima to make it on the comprehensive Top 10 ryokan list. The ryokan is a green getaway with its elegant Japanese garden, but it also provides great access to the sea with only five minutes walk to the beach. One of the things visitors praise the most is the ryokan's luxurious dining with high quality breakfast and dinner served in private rooms. In fact, while the ryokan is ranked number 8 on the comprehensive Top 10 list it makes it all the way to the top of the Cuisine category. You can also get some fun cultural experiences at the ryokan; they let you rent accessories that go with your yukata robe, such as the characteristic Japanese umbrella, a weaved basked for your belongings and outdoor sandals so that you can stroll outside in the traditional outfit as well. The ryokan offers pickup service from the station, but the walk along the shoreline from the ryokan to the station is apparently also a great experience.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 5 Chome-27-27 Yunohama, Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-0406

Yamanashi Prefecture is a popular destination for those who want to see/climb Mt. Fuji. There are also many activities visitors can take part in, such as a visit to a safari park, hiking in the nearby mountains or paragliding with Mt. Fuji in the background.
Hotel Kaneyamaen is one of the best ryokans you can choose if you want to enjoy a majestic view of Mt. Fuji right from the window of your own room. The ryokan has traditional Japanese style tatami-mat rooms with private baths, so for those who can afford the luxury this would definitely guarantee a lasting memory from Japan. The ryokan is also renown for its delicious kaiseki meals with around 10 different small dishes served one by one and which could provide a total new tasting experience for those unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine. This is a ryokan that can be enjoyed to the fullest in all four seasons with a large and elegant Japanese garden. Every evening visitors can experience a real Japanese taiko drum show, and the ryokan hotel even has its own little festivals held throughout the year!

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 6283 Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture

Kagoshima Prefecture is the only prefecture that has more than one ryokan hotel that made it to the Top 10 list. For those of you visiting the southern part of Japan (Kyushu) you might want to try out a night at each of them and find your favorite!
Ibusuki Hakusuikan Ryokan is situated by the coast, and offers high floor Japanese style rooms with sea-view for those who appreciate a spectacular view of the surrounding nature. This is a ryokan perfect also for those who are traveling with kids, as the children can enjoy the pool and the adults can relax in the hot spring onsen. The ryokan also offers a sand spa for those who want an alternative to the regular onsen. At the ryokan you can enjoy delicious cusine such as shabu-shabu hotpot and fresh sashimi. At the ryokan they are used to attending to foreign guests, and have English, Chinese and Korean speaking staff ready to assist you during your stay.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 12126-12 Higashikata, Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-0404

That's all the top 10 hotels chosen by The Ryoko Shinbun! In addition to the all-over ranking the award is also given out for subcategories such as best cuisine, best service and best design, so those who are interested in staying at the best of the best can choose from their preferred category. You can find the complete lists here (Japanese only).

Do you have a favorite ryokan hotel? Please leave a comment in the comment section below and let me know your recommendation!

Thanks for reading~

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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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