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Shuzenji, Shizuoka Prefecture, is definitely one of the most historic and traditional onsen resorts in Japan and today I will introduce the most prestigious ryokan there. That is, Shuzenji Onsen “Asaba”. Its history can be traced back 500 years. It started as an inn of Shuzenji Temple, and since then, its history and tradition have been taken over to this day.
Walking from Shuzenji Temple through “Tokko-no Yu” and “the Pathway of bamboo forest”, you will find a large gate as one you see at a temple. A huge noren curtain and luxurious looking foyer could be seen through the gate.
This is Asaba ryokan Inn.
Stepping inside, I was welcomed by an Okami ( mistress ) in Kimono and other Nakai ladies, which made me feel just as if I had been the master of the inn.
A large pond could be seen over the foyer. On that day, I was so lucky that I could see a magazine model on a boat to shoot pictures. Just like an image of a painting. I felt so excited to look around.
There was even a Noh stage beyond the pond. It can be used to play noh performance or have a wedding ceremony, I heard.
So, what’s inside the ryokan. There are 17 rooms in total and 5 onsen bathroom including open-air spa, inner bath, and family onsen. Some rooms have the private onsen bathroom. Please inquire when you make a booking.
“Asaba thinks much of the harmonization with nature”
The manager told me in an interview. Seasonal charms such as flowers, trees, birds, and singing of insects should be always around us. Of course, meals are to be cooked with the best selected ingredients of the season, or of the time to be served in Kaiseki style. Some guests come several times in different season, he said. They go so far as to cook rice respectively by rooms, as an aside. This is the supreme Omotenashi, don’t you think ?
Asaba, believe it or not, doesn’t have the website, by the way. That means no information can be obtained through the internet. Still, this is also one of the traditions Asaba has been upholding until now. Still it’s also true that they have almost full guests every day only by word of mouth. No exaggerated ads are required for real quality. Asaba is such an extraordinary inn you will get into very soon.
Shuzenji Onsen “Asaba”
Access ： JR Tokyo → JR Mishima → 30 minutes by Izu-hakone Railway to Shuzenji station → 10 minutes by taxi
Reference Rates ： ￥40,000 〜 ￥80,000／adult with dinner and breakfast ( tax and service fee included )
Booking and Inquiries ： By phone（ communicable in English ）
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Shuzenji is an onsen resort directly connected with Japanese tradition and there are lots of ryokan inns by the Katsura River that flows in the center of the town, all of which were killingly loved by old cultural figures. “Arai Ryokan” is one of the oldest inns in Shuzenji and, believe it or not, 15 historic architectures have been registered as national cultural treasures. A definite prestigious ryokan, established in 1872, one hundred years before I was born, of the era called “Meiji Period” in Japan.
Walking through the gate, I was very impressed by the autumn leaves marvelously going well with the architecture. I heard maple leaves of the Arai Ryokan’s inner garden had turned red fastest in Shuzenji. Another architecture seen on your left at the entrance is called “Seishu-ro”, which was built in 1881, the oldest building in Arai Ryokan, and is needless to say one of the registered national cultural treasures. I could feel the magnitude of history laden for years and years. Casually equipped calligraphic writings and paintings are all works of old cultural artists. You will also find a creek flowing in the lobby and stones shaping the Japanese archipelago. Everything is “Japanese”. I would rather say this lobby was created by old cultural workers.
I felt very comfortable walking on the wooden hallway and just wondered if the old men had also walked on the same floor. A decent pond, actually a part of Katsura River, was in the courtyard and I saw beautiful carps swimming gracefully. Guest rooms stand around the pond.
The guide exceptionally showed me one of the rooms. Astonishing ! I opened the window and found the Katsura River right in front of me and the red symbolic bridge. Beyond the river is the Chikurin-no Komichi, the bamboo pathway. I felt myself a little bit superiority seeing visitors passing by.＾＾
You can’t understand Arai-ryokan without seeing the onsen bathrooms. There are 4 onsens around the pond and one open-air bath a few minute walk away. Especially, the “Tempyo Dai-Yokudo” bathhouse in the picture is well known as an architectural masterpiece built in 1934. Dynamic cypress pillars looked so impressive.
As you can see from the picture, the lengths of pillars are all different and you know why ? It’s to strengthen the seismic capacity. That is the very wisdom of old people !
You can enjoy the guided tour of cultural properties of Arai-ryokan even if you are not staying overnight. Guide in English is available with request in advance. Please come and visit Arai Ryokan to stay or see the real Japan’s culture and history.
Access ： JR Mishima Sta. → Izu-hakone Railway（ 30 min ）Shuzenji Sta. → #１bus to “Shuzenji Onsen” ( 10 min ) → 5 minute walk
Reference room rate ： ￥30,000 〜／adult ( with dinner and breakfast )
Inquiries ： by phone or e-mail
Arai Ryokan Guided Tour ( by NPO Yukihiko Mokuho Kai )
Guide fee ： Visitors ＝ ￥1500（ with tea and snack ）／Room Guests ＝ ￥500
Scheduled time ：10:00〜／15:00〜 ( basically twice a day ）, 16:00〜 ( for guests only ）
Inquiries ： by e-mail
Once, in Tokyo, there was a ryotei traditional Japanese restaurant that had been pursuing the ultimate Japanese cuisine. “Yagyu” is its name and a ryokan inn taking over the mind of Yagyu stands still in Shuzenji, Izu City now.
A sukiya architecture ( traditional Japanese style mostly used for tea ceremony ) in the bamboo grove ― "Yagyu-no Sho" is the one I introduce today.
Established in 1970, it’s been already well-known as one of the most excellent ryokans in Japan though it has merely over 40 year history which is considered very new in the historic Shuzenji spa resort area.
13 rooms in the main house and 2 separated villas. All rooms are designed full-fledged sukiya style and, in addition, each room has distinctive aspects.
Please open the window to find a spectacular garden. It will surely let you forget your busy days. Just relax yourself.
Your meal will be served in Kaiseki style that has been taken over from “Yagyu”. They stick to selected ingredients chosen among the best place, best quality and the best season to reach the ultimate cuisine. Please feel the sense of tradition to your heart’s content.
Now, let’s see onsen hot spring that Shuzenji boasts most.
The onsen quality of Shuzenji is said to be the plain one； less of smell endemic to hot-spring, smooth to your skin and moisturizing your body. No wonder women love Shuzenji hot spring. The right picture is the communal bath. But this is not the only one. Yagyu-no Sho, believe it or not, provides individually a gorgeous onsen bathroom as pictures below to every single room wanting all guests to fully enjoy its high quality onsen.
Japanese ryokan often use the word “omotenashi”, ( often explained as “hospitality” ) which real definition differs by individual but I simply felt that I had seen various “omotenashi” during being guided in Yagyu-no Sho. I saw rooms, trees of gardens and even brightness of the hallway all ready to welcome coming guests. It was just like warmth of embracing, I instinctively presumed.
“This is the shape of our omotenashi we’ve pursued”
The master of Yagyu-no Sho told me in an interview. I deeply agreed. Supreme omotenashi to all guests. Come and stay at Yagyu-no Sho when you visit Shuzenji to touch the sublime mind of Japanese tradition.
Access ： JR Tokyo → JR Mishima → 30 minutes by Izu-hakone Railway to Shuzenji station
→ 10 minutes by taxi from Shuzenji Station
Reference room-rates ： ￥40,000 〜 ￥120,000／Adult ( with dinner and breakfast ) ※ service fee included, tax not included
Booking and inquiries ： By phone or e-mail（ acceptable in English ）
Website ： http://www.yagyu-no-sho.com
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“Shizuoka Guide” is our official English blog website for events & sightseeing. Always with you ! ＾＾
Once upon a time, there was a hotel that lots of genuine writers and painters lived in. It’s called “Kikufuji Hotel” and people used to name it “Oni-no Sumika”, the den of Japanese Oni monsters.
“Oni-no Sumika” is a famous story published in 1967. Now, the name was taken over by a ryokan located in Shuzenji, the mecca of cultural artists.
That is, Ryotei Ryokan “Oni-no Sumika”.
ONI no SUMIKA carries out the very mind of traditional Omotenashi ( hospitality ) being taken in Sekitei, Atami, and you can refresh yourself without being known to others. That’s definitely kind of lovely secret place as though Oni lives in the hidden domicile in the mountain. That time, I was lucky to be let in inside Oni-no Sumika, one of the most luxurious ryokans in Shuzenji. See the dignified gate. Made me very nervous.
Now, let’s get in. There are 12 rooms, actually separated villas surrounding the garden and ponds. So please forget the inside-the-building image because you will walk to your room through the walkway under the sky.
Walking along the pathway, I could see some rooms, “Arashiyama”, “Yamashina”, “Uji”……, the name of Kyoto basically indicates Japanese-style, and “Nagasaki” and “Shimoda” once a trading gateway indicate Western style. I was invited in a room to look around. Appreciate it !
The Japanese style has 2 rooms, Hon-ma living room and Tsugi-no-ma bed room. The spacious room itself gave me an inexplicable comfort, I felt. I opened the door and found a beautiful Japanese garden ! Awesome ！＾＾
The meals will be prepared in Kaiseki Japanese Cuisine style using seasonal best ingredients.
Please see the details from here.
This is the communal open-air onsen bath. It would be very romantic to see a stadium of stars bathing in the natural hot spring. Just relax yourself leaving everyday life behind
Generally, Onsen Ryokan has the aspect that some friends flock together to make a joyful party but here in Oni-no Sumika, it should be totally different. This is the place where you stay with someone you care so much for, like your sweetest girl/boy-friend or beloved family.
Supreme Omotenashi in the circumstance of your own away from the actual world, that is the very image that Oni enjoys his life in the hidden world in deep mountains. And that’s very what Oni-no Sumika is meant to be. Come and visit Shuzenji and explore the world of ONI no SUMIKA to feel Japanese sovereign culture and hospitality. Communicable in English.
Ishi-no Wa Group “Ryotei Ryokan Oni-no Sumika”
Access ： JR Tokyo → JR Mishima → Izu-hakone Railway（ 30 min ）Shuzenji Station → 10 minutes by #1 bus to Shuzenji Onsen → 10-15 walk
Or 10 minutes by taxi from Shuzenji Station
Reference room-rate ： ￥40,000 〜 ／Adult with dinner and breakfast
Booking and Inquiries ： By phone or e-mail
I’ll start with “Goyokan”, one of the most unique ryokans among traditional ryokan inns in Shuzenji Onsen spa resort. Established in 1926, it used to be a B&B style accommodation available with very reasonable rates, but recently, since Sep, 2011, it has been renovated and reborn as a ryokan style that also serves dinner and breakfast. 8 rooms in all, or maybe I should say 8 varieties because each room has characteristic features according to its master’s taste. Not alike other ryokans, nakai-san ( serving ladies ) won’t come into your room for preparing dinner or beds. Just relax yourself alone in your room.＾＾
Now, let me introduce some rooms of Goyokan. Though “Ryokan” may make you imagine typical “Japanese style”, these rooms will blow off your fixed idea. “Stylish” I would say. They may look Edo style at a glance but in fact, they are designed in reference to Feng Shui, the Chinese fortune. Each room has a theme color, like this room, for example, “White room – Taketora ( bamboo and tiger ) ” is set out basically with white things such as wallpapers. The pictures of bamboo grass and others are all hand-written. You can find varieties of drawings in Goyokan. Keep your eyes onto everywhere !
Now, what do you think ? All rooms look so fresh and creative, don’t they ? Most of the rooms are suited along Katsura River that flows in the center of Shuzenji town and I felt very refreshed by sitting on a couch by the window and listening to the stream. As you can see in the picture, Futon ( Japanese-style bed ) is ready right before you check-in so that you can lie about anytime.
Onsen comes next. It may be good enough for you to enjoy it in the large common bathroom but here I would strongly recommend you to book the private onsen room ! It also stands by the river. Pleasant with sounds of the stream. However, here is a surprise. The bathroom is equipped with a speaker with i-pod connection on it, and you can listen to your favorite music even during bathing. Be sure not to stay in it until you get dizzy. The large common baths below, by the way, can be reserved for the private until 18:00. It’s too luxurious to use them just for yourself, don’t you think ?＾＾
Basically, there are three types available for the accommodation plans of Goyokan. That is, with dinner and breakfast, with breakfast, or without any of them. Dinner is the alternative of Japanese or Western-style. Especially, their Italian dishes are wonderful ! Also try their rice porridge cooked with onsen ! And you know what ? Goyokan is a family-run and that enables them to offer services with family-like warmth, like you may hear “I’m home” or “welcome back” as families often do. Goyokan is definitely a traditional and high class looking ryokan that everybody loves.
Access ： JR Mishima Sta. → Izu-hakone Railway（ 30 min ）Shuzenji Sta. → 10 minutes by bus from #１ bus stop to “Shuzenji Onsen” and 1 minute walk
Reference Rate ：
￥10,650〜／adult, one night without dinner & breakfast
￥11,910〜／adult, one night with breakfast
￥15,690〜／adult, one night with dinner & breakfast
Inquiries ： By phone, e-mail, or through website ( acceptable in English )