Romantic Places in Japan
TokyoOnce a sleepy fishing village, now a huge metropolis ranging from a densely packed core to sprawling intimate neighborhoods.
1-3-18 Chuo-cho, Meguroku
T: +81 03 3719 8121 9 rooms. US$ 220-.
A favorite of designers, this arty hotel is located in a residential area away from the bustle of high-rise Tokyo. Large rooms and friendly staff. English spoken here.
For over 1,000 years Kyoto was the capital of imperial Japan and the center of Japanese culture, religious architecture, and gardening arts.
T: +81 75 221 1136. US$ 825-
One of the most famous ryokans in Japan, this luxurious 19th century romantic hotel has spacious tatami rooms and fine cuisine. Located in Central Kyoto.
T: +81 75 252 1113. 13 rooms. US$ 480-
The first design boutique hotel in Kyoto, the look is youthfully bold and beautiful. Located in a village-like area, with bakeries, cafes, bookstores and the Imperial Gardens nearby.
11-2 Genrokuzan-cho, Arashiyama, Nishikyo-ku
T: +8175 871 0001. 77 villas. US$ 671.
These newly built riverside villas within one-half hour of Kyoto’s attractions are a stylish modern uptake on a traditional ryokan. Arrive by a fragrant cedar river boat. All rooms have river views. Hoshinoya has a sleek looking restaurant with a special soba noodle chef.
Japan’s oldest existing city, its first permanent capital and the end point on the Silk Route. Buddhism entered Japan here.
Nara City, Nara
T: +81 742 26 2662 F: +81 742 26 2663. 11 huts. US$ 300, incl. 2 meals.
www.edosan.jp (Website in Japanese only).
11 Meijo-period huts, all of different architectural style, set in a sacred Nara deer park. Built in 1907 the original owner – accompanied by geishas – used it as an setting for entertainment and amusements. Like many ryokans, most rooms are Japanese-style, meaning no private baths; bathing is done communally in a separate hut. One hut is Western-style, containing a private bath. The staff are helpful and apologize for their poor English – if emailing them in English, keep it simple.
Nara City, Nara Japan
T: +81 742 26 1128, US$ 275-, incl. 2meals.
Elegant ryokan with beautiful garden located near the park and Todai-ji main gate.
Capital of feudal Japan from 1192 to 1333, Kamakura contains an impressive amount of Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines. The city is enveloped by forested mountains on three sides and Sagami Bay – popular with surfers – on the other. A favorite Tokyo day trip for visitors, spend the night here and enjoy the early mornings and evenings without the crowds.
T: +81 467 22 0960. F: +81 467 25 6324. 24 rooms, all w/bath. US$ 325-, incl. 2 meals.
Built by a baron in the 1920’s in an exclusive residential district. It is a two minute walk to the beach. The style combines Japanese and Western architecture; one wing and room is western-style; several others have western-style beds but a tatami area for eating; the remainder are all Japanese-style—futon beds and tatami mats.
A north-south ridge of granite peaks. Many are volcanic, some topping 10,000 feet and some are sacred. The most famous is Mt. Fuji, 55 miles outside of Tokyo. They are heavily forested, full of hot springs, and are particularly attractive in the northern range.
Takayama, Japanese Alps
Museums, jazz bars, stylish boutiques, Shinto shrines and the quaint old buildings of old town are all found in this welcoming mountain village where history seems alive.
411-1 Honobumachi, Takayama
T: +81 577 36 2000. 11 rooms. US$ 365-
Decorated in modern Japanese design, this ryokan includes its own natural hot springs on the grounds.
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama villages, Japanese Alps
Awarded world heritage site status because of their 800 year old style “praying hands” farmhouses—three or four story A-frame thatched roofed farmhouses that were skillfully built without nails. The upper levels housed silkworms, the farmer’s source of income during the snowy winter months. No ryokans here, but some simple “praying house” b&bs available.
456 Shirakawa-mura, Ono-gun, Gifu
T: +81 576 96 1446. F: +81 576 96 1748. 5 room b&b. US$- 100, incl. 2 meals.
Homemade meals at this guesthouse near the Myozenji temple and Shirakawa Haciman shrine. Rooms are Japanese-style, without private baths. Two communal baths, one women’s, one men’s.
Ainokura, Taira, Higashi, Tonami-gun, Toyama
T: +81 763 66 2206. F: +81 763 66 2206. 5 room b&b. US$- 100, incl. 2 meals.
Thatched roof guesthouse with homemade meals. Japanese-style rooms, no baths. Alternating communal bath.
Hakone, Japanese Alps
Come here for a close-up view of Japan’s sacred volcano, Mt. Fuji. Hakone is located an hour’s drive southwest of Tokyo and is the gateway to Fuji-Kahone-Izu National Park.
T: +81 35 368 0790. US$ 575-
Multiple traditional-style bathing pools – including an outdoor hot spring-fed stone pool and a hot tub overlooking the Haya River – await guests. Hakone Ginyu is a little less formal than most ryokans and therefore is a popular choice with young urbans from Tokyo.
T: +81 46 023 331. US$ 980-
Former summer home of an imperial clan, this luxurious traditional ryokan contains priceless antiques, scrolls, and a series of outdoor pools and lounges.
Miyajima IslandTake a ferry ride from Hiroshima to the sacred and scenic island of Miyajima, home of the famous floating Tori shrine.
T: +81 829 44 2233 F: +81 829 99 44 2230. US$ 350-, incl. 2 meals.
Lovely maple tree gardens and wonderful food at this elegant and centrally located ryokan.