The Hiranoya Tea House in Autumn, © Risa Sekiguchi, 2009
Ryokan IndexRyokan TipsRyokan EtiquetteHorai Ryokan, Atami
Honke Bankyu BankyuHoshinoya KaruizawaHoshinoya KyotoKinmata Ryokan, Kyoto



Kinmata Ryokan
Kyoto, Japan

Despite my best intentions, we arrived at the Kinmata Ryokan late. I had longed to stay at this historic and elegant Japanese inn for many years, after reading rave reviews in guidebooks and staring at the photographs on the inn’s website for hours. The description was just what I wanted in a ryokan; elegantly simple, with fine original woodwork throughout, and marvelous food. MORE

Atami, Japan

Horai is a mythical mountain, often depicted in literature, paintings and gardens, that is home to the eight immortals of Chinese lore. Known as an otherworldly place that provides a bridge between heaven and earth, it is also an apt name for Horai ryokan. Situated on a cliff high above the sea in the busy hot spring resort town of Atami, and located conveniently near the MOA Museum of Art, Horai has been providing a slice of paradise on earth to travelers for over 250 years. MORE

Honke Bankyu Bankyu
Yunishigawa, Japan

If you are looking for a weekend escape from Tokyo, a trip north to Yunishigawa onsen is highly recommended. The town itself – barely more than a few dozen houses – is not much to see, but there is a 380 year old ryokan hidden deep within one of the valleys that is quite an adventure in and of itself and is worth the extra effort to get to. MORE

Hoshinoya Karuizawa
Nagano, Japan

Karuizawa is a wonderful weekend escape from Tokyo. Here, you can not only experience hot springs and mountain scenery, but also historic architecture in a quaint, romantic setting with welcome cool, crisp air, and it's only a little over an hour from Tokyo via shinkansen. While Karuizawa may not have the Hakone’s views of Mt. Fuji (which are often obscured by clouds), it lies at the base of Mt. Asama, an active volcano that is easily scaled and perfectly safe. MORE

Hoshinoya Karuizawa

Hoshinoya Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan

If you are looking for a romantic hideaway that combines the best of old and new Japan, Hoshinoya Kyoto is just the place. It’s a relatively new (open December 2009) property that has been gaining increasing accolades worldwide. I don’t know how else to describe it, but staying there is like traveling a great distance and back in time and yet, having all the modern conveniences of today. It’s like a parallel universe where perfection really IS possible. MORE

Hoshinoya Kyoto


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