Staying in Japan is never complete without soaking in an “onsen (温泉)” or a Japanese hot spring. For hundreds of years, the Japanese people have enjoyed this activity mainly for socializing and its health benefits. It is considered as one of the great ways to enjoy the Japanese culture in the country.
There are so many onsen inns around Japan that it becomes troublesome to choose the best one. However, a small town called Yufuin (由布院), which is nestled in the picturesque valley below Mt. Yufu (由布岳) on the southern island of Kyushu (九州), is one of the best places to experience high-class onsen inns in the country. The town has a beautiful scenery where people live and where rice paddies and fields can be found. Here are three of the high-class inns that can accommodate you if you happen to stay in the onsen resort town of Yufuin!
One of the best-known onsen resorts attracting millions of tourists every year is Yufuin Tamanoyu. This onsen inn was established in 1953 and is renowned for its outstanding hospitality, beautiful gardens, and exquisite food. It is owned by Izumi Kuwano (桑野和泉) who is also the chairperson and president of the inn. She makes sure that the guests experience the season during their stay.
Seasonal decorations linked to special events as well as seasonal dishes can be found in the place. These include vegetables grown by nearby farmers and seafood from waters around Oita (大分). You may also try Bungo beef (豊後牛), which is the area’s specialty meat. They are so delicious and fresh!
The staff at Yufuin Tamanoyu makes sure that the guests feel welcomed and relaxed. They also do not bombard the guests with a lot of information. Most of the guests usually ask about the flowers in the garden as they seem to be very interested in them. As such, the staff makes sure to read books and learn more about flowers. Visitors can also spend time eating and drinking while looking out of the garden.
Sansou Murata is a quiet inn built in 1992 and is located in the mountains, which provides a beautiful view of the Yufuin Basin. This is a scenic and tranquil place away from the busy town life of Yufuin. Among the hot springs in Japan, this onsen inn ranks 3rd when it comes to the amount of hot water. It is said that some of the old and traditional Japanese houses in the northeastern region of Niigata have been brought here. They are all intact, including the main ryokan (旅館) building.
If you come to the place, you may notice that its architecture is a blend of both traditional and modern styles. All the guests can enjoy a hot spring bath in their rooms at any time of the day and all rooms are independent guesthouses located at the foot of the mountain.
The unique and original strong feeling of “omotenashi” is being practiced by the ryokan staff. They deeply think about the guests and their level of comfort and they are also very friendly. A hearty connection is established between the staff and the guests which truly makes the experience satisfying for both local and foreign visitors.
Reservations can be made up to 5 months in advance. An uncountable number of hot springs can be found in Japan, but Sansou Murata is like no other. Everyone is welcomed as honorable guests and is promised to discover the undiscovered Japan. Get satisfied with the inn’s facilities which include Japanese and Italian restaurants, a cafe and bar, a gift shop, a museum, and a chocolate shop.
Kamenoi Bessou is regarded as one of the three major inns located in Yufuin. This ryokan was built in 1921 as a country house of Aburaya Kumahachi (油屋熊八) of Beppu (別府), a great merchant.
It consists of 6 Western rooms and 15 detached Japanese guesthouses. The guesthouses are scattered in a forest-like surrounding. Each of the rooms has a different sense of style. All rooms have a private bath except for one. The standard plan for the cottages comes in 5 choices: Japanese-Cottage Futon A and B, Japanese-Cottage Bed A and B, and Hotel-type Room. All of these can accommodate 2 to 4 persons except for the hotel-type room which can accommodate only up to 2 persons.
Inn facilities include a big bath, a restaurant, a cafe, and a shop. Two big baths are located in the cottage area, one bath for women and another one for men. These are only available for hotel guests. If you would like to bring home some souvenirs, you may visit the souvenir shop called Kagiya (鍵屋) where you can find a lot of original Japanese sweets like ohagi and arare. Keika-Enn (螢火園) is a restaurant for hotel guests only. Here, you can enjoy your breakfast and dinner at the terrace area. Meanwhile, hot pots and other local specialties in Japan can be found at Yunotake-Ann (湯の岳庵), a restaurant which is open to the public. It has 7 Japanese tables on a tatami mat and 7 Western tables.
For an unforgettable hot spring experience in the country, heading to Yufuin is the answer. As a popular hot spring resort, the town offers a lot of tourist attractions. It has picturesque lakes and rivers flowing down and across the valley. Because of this, the local economy is strengthened through domestic tourism, gift shops, and hot spring bathing. The baths are spread across town and many of them are actually difficult to access via public transportation. If you want to go to these places, you better rent a bicycle or a car. There are also so many art museums and boutiques to visit that many travelers come to the place just to stroll for a day.
If you want to enjoy an overnight stay alone or with your family and friends, then you better stay at high-class inns, which provide great comfort and convenience. The three inns mentioned above are ideal places for first-time travelers who want to experience the culture of Japanese onsen.