I’m an island girl and the sound of the sea will always bring me peace and comfort, so naturally I jumped at the chance to stay in a hotel built right on the shoreline with views across the bay. Amakusa is a popular tourist destination, particularly in the summer when people flock there to enjoy the famous dolphin cruises. Located on Ueshima Island (just a few minutes drive from Amakusa City and Hondo Port on Shimoshima Island) the Hotel Kawacho offers great rates, comfortable rooms, unique facilities and fantastic views.
Amakusa and Kamiamakusa make for a fantastic holiday location – there are so many islands to visit and endless choices of museums, attractions, seaside experiences, hot springs, and restaurants. While most people opt for staying right in the center of Amakusa City, as small cities go it isn’t particularly scenic, so by staying just a short distance out of the main town means that you get to stay in a nice, quiet hotel as well as having easy access to the places you want to visit – particularly if you have a car.
Crossing the bridge from the main island its just a short drive up the coast to the hotel, perched on the waterside of the road. The view is stunning – straight across you can see Hondo Port and the curve of the island as it reaches up towards Tomioka and on the distance the glimmer of Shimabara Bay. Not quite a ‘sea view’ – you’re on the wrong side of the island to see straight out to sea – but still a marvelous image to wake up to.
Both Japanese and Western-style rooms are available with private or shared bathroom facilities. We stayed in a Japanese style room with futons on the tatami floor. It was the most spacious Japanese-style rooms I’ve ever stayed in – the bedroom was vast and airy with a high ceiling and big, roomy cupboards. As well as the futon beds, our furniture included a large standing coat rack and a low table with legless chairs. Room prices are very reasonable, with a two-person booking going for 9,600 yen to 11,600 yen (without and with breakfast) and a three person room priced from 13,500 yen to 17,100 yen (without and with breakfast). Single rooms are available for 5,000 / 6,000 yen. On the Amakusa Treasure Island Tourism Association website it also appears to list dorm rooms at 2,600 yen per night, but as these are not listed on hotel booking websites you would need to call for details.
Our bathroom was small but clean and a nice surprise as we thought we’d picked the budget option with shared facilities. Best of all, of course, was the view – the windows were tall and wide, opening straight onto a sea view with waves swirling and crashing directly beneath us. We woke to stormy weather and the sound of water slapping against the rocks – even with the moody clouds looming it was an arresting scene.
Amakusa is known for its hot spring resorts and at Hotel Kawacho, guests can use the hot spring free of charge. The onsen is quite unique in that it is a salt water onsen – it certainly makes for a relaxing and unusual bath time to be bobbing around in warm, salty water while looking out at a beautiful sea view. As per usual in Japan, guests with tattoos may not be permitted to use this facility, so check ahead.
On the ground floor, there is a seafood restaurant that also looks right out into the bay. Not a classy joint but judging by the pictures they make some fantastic food. Fresh seafood bought straight from the fisherman make up the vast majority of their dishes, and there are all sorts of sets and courses available for various budgets, though if you don’t speak any Japanese it might be difficult to know exactly what you’re ordering!
While the Hotel Kawacho only has a rating of 6.9 on Booking.com (and an average 3 out of 5 on TripAdvisor) I was really impressed by this place and highly recommend it. Despite only having been receiving guests since the end of 2013, there is a worn charm to the hotel that makes it seem like it has stood for decades. The spacious rooms are a nice surprise after the low cost of booking, and the salt water onsen was a unique experience, particularly as I had the pool to myself! There is so much to see in Amakusa that I’ll no doubt be heading down for the third trip there at some point this year, and the Hotel Kawacho will be my first choice when picking where to stay!
To find out more information and book a room, check out Booking.com.