Relaxing in Ryokan
When booking a trip to Japan, one option that is sometimes overlooked is staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ryokan typically feature tatami-matted rooms, traditional multi-course kaiseki meals, and communal onsen baths. Many ryokan are family-owned, and staying in one is a great way to support the local economy. As traditional ryokan are more often found in smaller cities and rural areas—especially those with hot spring towns—Hyogo Prefecture is home to a number of fantastic ryokan for a unique, traditional experience.
Located in Kinosaki Onsen, which is 2.5 hours from Kyoto, Nishimuraya Honkan is a member of Relais & Châteaux and is rated as the “Best Onsen Ryokan” in Lonely Planet. It is a luxurious ryokan with traditional-style guest rooms, an expansive Japanese garden, soothing onsen baths, and delicious kaiseki dinners. Over the years, the ryokan has built up an impressive collection of photographs, paintings, and artifacts of the past from Nishimuraya, Kinosaki Onsen, and Japan itself in its museum. The ryokan also offers tours, which include a culinary look into how kaiseki dinners are made in the kitchen.
Takarazuka-Onsen Hotel Wakamizu
Located in Takarazuka, just 30 minutes from Osaka, Wakamizu may look like a hotel from the outside, but inside visitors will see that it is a luxurious and modern ryokan. Takarazuka itself is well known for its culture and sophistication, and this ryokan highly reflects that. Guests of Wakamizu have the choice between Japanese and Western-style rooms and beds. They can also sit down to a feast of dishes made with traditional Japanese culinary craftsmanship, using local ingredients like Kobe Beef. Facilities include a bar lounge, a karaoke room, and a banquet hall. The ryokan also has a number of hot spring baths, including a rose bath that’s available twice a week.
Located in Arima Onsen, just 30 minutes from downtown Kobe, Gekkoen has two connecting facilities: Korokan and Yugetsu Sanso. Korokan is fully equipped with a tearoom, karaoke room, spa area, and a large bath and outdoor hot springs facing the surrounding mountains. Yugetsu Sanso is a traditional Japanese inn constructed from wood that sits along the river. Featuring a continuously flowing natural hot springs for its outdoor bath, this facility allows visitors to fully enjoy the splendor of Arima Onsen’s springs. Arima Onsen is known for Arima Geiko, who are geisha that perform traditional types of singing and dancing.
Visitors can view more onsen (hot spring) ryokan on the website Selected Onsen Ryokan.
Hyogo Prefecture is easily reachable from Osaka and Kyoto by JR train. The Hyogo Tourism Bureau provides more detailed information about traveling to and within the prefecture.
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