10 Serene Hotels in Yamagata Near Historical Hotspots and Retro Hot Springs
- Published: Jun 02 2023
Yamagata is a prefecture located by the Sea of Japan in the Tohoku region, accessible in about 3 hours from Tokyo via bullet train. Owing to its fertile terrain, it is famous for superb rice, sake, fruits like cherries, and, in recent years, wine. With a vast size and four distinct regions, each with their own culture and climate, Yamagata has a lot to offer travelers - including historical landmarks, blissful hot springs, untouched nature, and plenty of gourmet food. In this article, we’ll introduce 10 carefully selected Yamagata lodgings, each offering great access to the best of the area to guarantee a satisfying, memorable stay!
10 Hotels in Yamagata to Explore Historical Hotspots, Retro Hot Springs, and More!
1. Hotel Metropolitan Yamagata
Hotel Metropolitan Yamagata sits in the heart of Yamagata and is directly connected to JR Yamagata Station, making it an excellent base to explore the area.
The Main and South wings present spacious, restful guestrooms, including high-quality, functional concept rooms on the 6th and 7th floors, as well as deluxe rooms on the 8th to 11th floors adorned with warm natural materials.
For those seeking luxury, the Special Rooms include both Japanese-Western fusion rooms and top-floor suites crafted with traditional Yamagata geometric wood assembly, which forgoes the use of nails. Guestrooms designed with accessibility in mind are also available, including those with wheelchair and stroller access, while baby cribs and children's toilet seats are available to borrow, making holidays with kids a breeze.
At the hotel restaurant, savor the seasonal tastes of Yamagata's abundant local delicacies, including the renowned Yonezawa beef and Yamagata beef, which are cooked right before your eyes on a teppanyaki grill.
2. Daiwa Roynet Hotel Yamagata Ekimae
Conveniently located just a 3-minute walk from JR Yamagata Station, the Daiwa Roynet Hotel Yamagata Ekimae presents casual accommodation with refined spaces and hospitable service.
Its spacious rooms are sublime, with even the singles measuring over 21 m², ensuring ample space for large suitcases. There are also four-person rooms available for families or groups traveling together, and most have separate bathrooms and toilets. They are all equipped with a large 4K smart TV, allowing you to enjoy subscription services and websites using the streaming function. For fitness enthusiasts, there's a fully-equipped gym with running machines and aerobikes, perfect for maintaining an exercise routine during your trip.
The hotel's dining room serves dishes prepared by a talented chef trained at a long-established Japanese restaurant in Kyoto. Local Yamagata cuisine such as “imo-ni” (stewed beef and taro) is served for breakfast, along with stew and curry made with beef from an old-time local butcher.
3. Hohoemino Kuyufu Tsuruya
Hohoemino Kuyufu Tsuruya is a ryokan inn located in Tendo Onsen, one of the most famous hot spring towns in Yamagata. Founded in 1911, its heavenly waters have earned it recognition as one of the “100 Best Hot Springs in Japan,” making it a must-visit for fans of Japanese onsen. Along with access to the springs, Tsuruya’s prime location next to Yamagata City makes it an excellent option for those getting around by public transport.
Upon entering, you'll be greeted by a lobby covered with tatami mats and traditional Tendo woodwork furniture. The ryokan's corridor-style layout encircles a courtyard garden, which can be viewed from any spot in the facility, showcasing exceptional design. The hallways likewise feature tatami flooring, letting guests relish the pleasant texture of straw on their feet.
Guestroom highlights include those designed in modern Japanese style with attached open-air baths, along with others equipped with their own dining rooms, as well as accessible rooms accommodating a diverse range of people. They are all meticulously arranged with an emphasis on privacy.
In December 2022, Tsuruya’s bathhouse was renovated and reopened. The wash area now has tatami mats, a fixture unique even in Japan, which provide comfortable cushioning and insulation for your feet after bathing. Guests can also unwind in hot spring water flowing directly from Tendo Onsen in the open-air bath on the wooden deck. After bathing, treat yourself to a feast of seasonal Yamagata delicacies.
4. Hotel Koyo
Nestled at the foot of the Zao Mountain Range, a skier’s paradise, Kaminoyama Onsen boasts a 560-year history and is just a 40-minute bus ride from Yamagata Station. Hotel Koyo, perched on a hill overlooking the stunning Zao Mountains, has been ranked in the top 10 of the “100 Best Hotels and Inns in Japan Chosen by Professionals” for over 40 years.
Guests can choose from a range of rooms to suit their needs, including those with attached open-air baths, Japanese-Western fusion design, Japanese-modern, and Western-style twins. The VIP room on the top floor boasts a spectacular panorama of the Zao Mountains.
The hot spring water is clear and luscious, and has potent warming and moisturizing effects, earning it the nickname “Bijin-no-Yu,” meaning “Hot Water of Beauty.” Take in the grandeur of the Zao Mountains and the Kaminoyama night view while soaking in the large bath, or enjoy the open-air barrel baths brimming with Japanese flair. For those who value privacy, reservable baths are also available. Make sure to also save time for the high-temperature sauna and the -5°C cold sauna.
For dinner, indulge in spectacular dishes made with local delights like Yonezawa beef, Yamagata beef, and Yamagata rice, each prepared with care and attention. Kick off the next day with a hearty breakfast buffet, which flaunts fresh vegetables harvested the very same morning.
Ginzan Onsen is adored for its nostalgic scenery woven together by rows of Western-style wooden inns built around 1920-1940, lining both banks of the Ginzan River. A mere five-minute stroll through this whimsical hot spring heaven will lead you to “Ginzanso.”
All of Ginzanso’s guestrooms face the river, and were created to immerse guests in an authentic Japanese atmosphere. At night, the sound of the murmuring river soothes one’s soul, while the magnificent sight of the illuminated Ginzan River will take your breath away. Guestrooms with semi-open-air lie-down baths are especially popular, allowing one to bathe while gazing upon the river through large windows.
The indoor hot spring in the roomy bathhouse is directly attached to the open-air bath, allowing guests to move between them without stepping outside. The lie-down baths are the most relaxing, letting one gaze up at the night sky and completely zone out. There is also a bedrock bath facility, which thoroughly warms the body from the inside out.
Dinner is served with roast Yamagata wagyu from Japanese Black cattle and other locally sourced dishes. While the dining room is done in traditional Japanese style, guests can choose between a chair or a cushion, ensuring maximum comfort while eating.
6. Takamiya Ryokan Miyamaso
Zao Onsen is one of Yamagata’s most famous tourist destinations, attracting visitors from both Japan and abroad for its renowned skiing and snowboarding in winter. Established in 1716, Takamiya Ryokan Miyamaso is an atmospheric Japanese-style wooden ryokan inn deeply imbued with the traditional beauty of Japan.
The inn's hot spring water flows freely from its own private source, which has been continuously gushing for 300 years since its founding. The smell of sulfur is potent, proving its authenticity. The main bathhouse exudes an ancient ambience through black-lacquered board walls and thick pillars, while the open-air tubs were painstakingly fashioned by local traditional craftsmen. There is also a “hinoki” cypress bath, an open-air bath made of natural Zao stone, a footbath, a private reservable bath, and several other baths to choose from.
Guestrooms include Japanese-style rooms, villas with traditional storehouse-style facades, maisonettes, and rooms with attached open-air baths. Each has its own unique appeal, making it difficult to settle on just one!
For meals, guests can indulge in seasonal “kaiseki” cuisine featuring highly coveted Zao beef grilled on a ceramic plate, along with other Yamagata mountain delicacies. One of the most popular offerings is the Zao beef “sukishabu” hotpot, which is a Takamiya specialty and limited to just four groups per day.
Kansyokan is a ryokan inn that dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868). It is located in Semi Onsen, a hot spring town with waters that have been flowing continuously for 800 years. This prestigious inn has even hosted members of Japan’s Imperial Family on several occasions.
Guests can directly relish this high-quality hot spring water in the ryokan’s large bathhouse and open-air baths, which face wide windows flaunting the best of the season’s nature. In front of the inn is a river, whose gentle murmuring will coax you into a state of blissful relaxation as you soak in the open-air baths.
Most of the guestrooms are Japanese style, and the room with a sunken “kotatsu” floor heater is great for winter stays. There are also seven guestrooms with different types of open-air baths, each named after a natural wonder like “Cherry Blossoms in the Mountain Village” and “Red Dragonfly at Sunset.” The most luxurious experience awaits in the VIP guestrooms, where members of the Imperial Family spent the night.
Being a mountain inn, Kansyokan serves creative dishes that change monthly to fully utilize the surrounding natural bounties, such as wild vegetables, mushrooms, river fish from pristine streams, and traditional vegetables. After dinner, we recommend taking a stroll through the nostalgic, charming hot spring town.
The hot springs of Akakura Onsen have a long history of being used for purification by ascetic monks during the Kamakura period (1183-1333). Today, it is popular among skiers who frequent the nearby slopes. Tucked away in this tiny paradise is Yunohara, which offers the joyous experience of doing nothing at all.
Here, the hot spring waters of Akakura Onsen flow freely into the large bathhouse and open-air bath, which present fantastic scenery capturing the best of each season. There’s also an outdoor hut where guests can casually dip their feet in a footbath and read or chat.
Guestrooms in the main building are designed in authentic Japanese style, while those in the annex all face the river. Both buildings are small, containing a total of just 18 rooms, allowing guests to relax in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere.
For meals, guests can tuck into creative cuisine that incorporates local ingredients and traditional dishes. The generous portions are particularly popular with hungry skiers and sightseers.
9. Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse
Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse is an extraordinary hotel situated in Shonai, a renowned rice-producing area of Yamagata, near the Sea of Japan. Despite its chic design, the hotel merges seamlessly with the surrounding rice paddies and mountainside scenery. When the rice paddies are flooded, the hotel appears like it's floating on the water, attracting photographers from across the country!
Another of the hotel's notable features is its sizable library, which contains approximately 2,000 books for both children and adults. Guests can take them anywhere on the hotel grounds, including back to their rooms for a leisurely read.
The guestrooms are decorated with warm wooden decor and simple, natural furnishings that weave together a cozy ambiance. The 119 guestrooms are suitable for a wide range of travelers, from singles to families, and those overlooking the rice paddies are highly recommended.
The hotel dining room and bar serve dishes of ingredients sourced from Shonai, along with sake from 18 local breweries and wine from 15 wineries across Yamagata.
Guests can also indulge in the spa facilities, which includes a gym and multiple indoor and outdoor baths, all filled with water from the nearby Tsuruoka Kitakyoden hot spring, along with a Finnish sauna.
10. Seaside Inn Ikkyu
Seaside Inn Ikkyu is a ryokan inn in Yunohama Onsen adored since its establishment in 1943. The grand lobby windows offer a breathtaking view of the Sea of Japan, and the stunning gradation of the blue sea and orange horizon at sunset is sure to leave you mesmerized.
100% free-flowing hot spring water can be enjoyed in two large bathhouses. Next to the open-air bathhouse is a rustic wooden cypress barrel bath, letting you soak while taking in the ocean views and refreshing sea breeze. The other large bathhouse features reclining baths where you can lay down and nap, plus an open-air rock bath.
The cozy guestrooms come in a variety of types, including luxury rooms with hot springs and ocean views, and others with their own dining spaces. All rooms face the sea, guaranteeing each guest a magnificent view. Make sure to stick around for the spectacular Yunohama sunset, which was selected as one of the “100 Best Sunsets in Japan.”
Being in a seaside town, meals are naturally centered around fresh seafood, along with locally grown produce. Shonai is also famous for its high-quality rice, so be sure to enjoy it freshly cooked!
Spend a Night Amongst History, Nature, and Retro Hot Springs in Yamagata
Yamagata is a vast region with many scattered places of interest, and it’s impossible to fully experience its appeal on just a daytrip. So, plan your Yamagata itinerary, and see which one of the above Yamagata hotels or ryokan fits the bill!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.