20 Ryokan with Incredible Hot Springs in Karuizawa: Refresh Your Mind and Body While on Vacation!
Karuizawa is a resort area not too far away from Tokyo that is often frequented by people looking to escape the heat during the otherwise stifling summers of Japan. The area truly meets every need of a much-needed vacation, with luxuries of fine dining and shopping venues alongside scenic open-air baths by bountiful nature and relaxing sounds of nearby wildlife. This is an introduction to 20 recommended ryokan (Japanese-style inns) in Karuizawa with fantastic hot spring baths, many of which are outdoors, allowing you to enjoy the temperate climate and gorgeous lush nature scenery.
Oct 24 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
10 Recommended Onsen Lodges in New/Old Karuizawa
1. The Prince Karuizawa
The Prince Karuizawa is a modern resort hotel fully equipped with skiing grounds and a golf course, and all rooms have a picturesque view of Mt. Asama. During your stay, you'll have unlimited access to the hot spring area via a hotel-run shuttle bus that traverses the hotel grounds. You'll also have the luxuries of an indoor bath, an open-air bath, and a steam sauna, right in the center of the lush green surrounding forest.
The Forest Hot Spring, exclusive to hotel guests, sources its water from a nearby natural spring. Between the exquisite seasonal beauty of the nearby nature and the bliss of being enveloped in the steamy, clear waters of the natural spring, how about spending some time in lavish ease and comfort at the resort?
2. TOKYU Harvest Club - Kyu Karuizawa
This hotel offers convenient access to Karuizawa's main sightseeing spots and rental bikes as an easy means of transportation, whether you want to check out the nearby nature or spend some time with art at the nearby museum. The location also has some great nearby outlets if you're in the mood for shopping. Inside the hotel, you'll find a hot spring pool as well as a restaurant to meet all of your needs to be able to fully relax.
TOKYU Harvest Club's rooms are both spacious and luxurious, and the facility is even able to afford space for a large parking lot if you happen to be visiting by car. The liberating open-air bath offers a close-up view of the season's elements and the rare privilege of a blissful hot bath under a night sky strewn with stars.
3. Le Grand Kyu Karuizawa Hotel
The open-air bath on the top floor reflects the sunlight that pours through the outstretched branches of the trees by day and offers a starry mountain sky by night for two different kinds of stunning bath experiences. Their hot spring water is sourced from the famous Hanamaki Spring in Iwate Prefecture, where the amber water has the viscosity of high-end perfume. The spring water is also said to improve the sheen of your skin. Le Grand offers an opulent, one-of-a-kind experience in pure luxury.
To ensure that you can make the most of your time during your stay, Le Grand has rental bikes for you to make your way around. As a popular vacation area, Karuizawa is rife in recreational activities and there are many ways to explore the art and culture of the area. You also have multiple options to choose from if you'd rather go shopping. Feel free to tailor your schedule according to your interests while Le Grand takes care of everything else to make sure your stay is as relaxing as it can possibly be.
4. Le Chien
Le Chien is the place to stay if you're a dog lover, especially considering how they even offer amenities for the pets. Karuizawa is the perfect place to visit and take your dog out for a scenic stroll in Karuizawa's fresh outdoor air. Dogs are permitted in every guest room, as well as the hotel restaurant.
On the outdoor premises, there's a dog park as well a dog salon, and after full day of relaxing and walking around Karuizawa with your dog, you'll have a natural hot spring waiting back at the hotel. At Le Chien, your vacation experience is sure to be a memorable one.
5. Karuizawa Prince Hotel East
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East is a modern resort hotel furnished with many pieces of artwork. Its design is inspired by the nearby forest and gives the facility quite a different feel from typical Prince Hotels. There are also spectacular views of the different shades of green from the guest rooms at the main building, and a cottage room where dogs are permitted.
At the spa, you can relieve all of the built-up tension in your body with a white birch and lavender oil massage, all while listening to the ambient sounds of a singing bowl and exercising some deep breathing. How about some relaxation in tandem with a vacation getaway?
6. Tsuruya Ryokan
You might be intrigued to know that Karuizawa was first popularized as a vacation spot by a Canadian priest, and it was in fact foreigners in Japan who first started building vacation homes in the area. This Western influence is evident in Tsuruya Ryokan, an old-fashioned lodge highly popular with those visiting from abroad. On account of its history, the lodge has a quaint feel and you can taste the culinary traditions that have been passed down in their cuisine. The ryokan is also in a convenient location that serves as a useful base for getting around Karuizawa.
The waters of the inn's onsen baths are drawn from Karuizawa's natural water, and the igneous rocks in the soft water are said to have far infrared properties that better relax the body. Many literary giants are said to have frequented this relaxing ryokan, so you're sure to enjoy a restful time.
7. Hotel Cypress Karuizawa
Hotel Cypress Karuizawa is a classy resort hotel with a large public bath and a garden terrace that embodies the beauty of Karuizawa's nature. The hotel is popular among groups of people traveling together, as well as among visitors from abroad. Vivid, warm light crosses over the nearby plains to fill the spacious lounge during the day, where you can enjoy some dining while listening to live music performances in the evenings.
The spacious public bathhouse contains an artificial radium spring that will warm you to the core, a carbonated open-air bath to detoxify and alkalize your body, a jacuzzi, and a sauna, where you can coax out the exhaustion of a full day's activity. The hotel also offers rooms with their own private open-air baths and kitchens, depending on your preference for the occasion.
8. Karuizawa Hotel LONGINGHOUSE
LONGINGHOUSE is well known for having a varied selection of well-designed rooms, and in April 2019, it expanded by adding 10 reservation-based open-air baths to its repertoire. The meals are prepared with fresh vegetables, and the nutritious dishes at the restaurant are popular, even among people who aren't staying at the hotel.
The hotel has a picturesque look, like something out of a fairy tale, and the dainty appearance of the premises attracts many visitors. They also offer various stay plans depending on whether you're visiting as a couple, solo traveler, or a parent with a child. It's highly recommended that you stay at LONGINGHOUSE if you're looking for an unconventional and extraordinary vacation in Karuizawa.
9. Yuusuge Onsen Ryokan
Yuusuge Onsen Ryokan takes pride in their hot springs, and they even accept day guests who are interested in enjoying their baths. The soft water of the natural hot spring is sourced from the ground and warms your body from the outside-in. The old-fashioned atmosphere is homely and unpretentious.
The ryokan has been traditionally family-run, sustaining the warm hospitality of the Showa Era (1926-1989) that evokes nostalgia for anyone who's stayed overnight with classmates during field trips. Traditional Japanese meals are prepared from scratch using seasonal ingredients, and the time and care taken to cook the dishes are reflected in the delicious taste. Their room rates are also very affordable.
10. KYUKARUIZAWA KIKYO
KIKYO is a high-end resort hotel that stands nearby the main street of Kyu Karuizawa. During a stay at the hotel, you'll be met with cordial hospitality in their leisurely and timeless atmosphere. The morning buffet and dinner are sublime, both in flavor and atmosphere.
The large public bath is adorned with trees and rocks, creating a serene and pleasant scenery while you bathe. The hotel concept is about new beginnings; to refresh and revitalize both physically and mentally to achieve a state of complete relaxation.
5 Recommended Hot Spring Hotels in Naka Karuizawa
1. Karuizawa Marriott Hotel
Karuizawa Marriott Hotel stands amidst a quiet forest, and the establishment takes pride in its pristine interior and hospitality. The public bath and open-air bath accept day visitors during the spring and it sources its water from Kose Onsen, whose water is known for its pore cleansing properties. The rooms in the north wing have access to the waters of Shiotaku Onsen, which is said to help soothe pain from rheumatism and other muscular pains.
Staying with dogs is permitted in the cottage rooms where you'll have beautiful seasonal views of the surrounding forest, along with heated floors for when it gets cold. Some rooms even include their own open-air hot spring baths and private gardens. The opulent facilities and picturesque setting of the hotel are popular with vacationers, and the hotel has a private bus for pick up and drop off from and to Karuizawa Station for easy access.
2. Kutsukake Stay Naka Karuizawa
Kutsukake Stay was once an old traditional Japanese house, but after some renovations, it has become a guest house with modern functionality. The historical building and its garden are both popular, with a sense of Japanese culture that international travelers particularly love. Meals consist of traditional Japanese cuisine, and even the cutlery and tableware match the ambience. The earthy and quaint feel makes relaxation a matter of course.
Once settled in, some leisurely reading on the lounge sofa out on the terrace is an enticing prospect for a moment of private time. The library space also reflects a stylistically Japanese touch, and the quiet space is optimal for its intended purpose. Visitors can enjoy a day of shopping in the area during the day and have lively conversations over some sumptuously prepared dinners at night. There is also, of course, a large public bath where you can immerse yourself in the steamy waters.
3. Shiotsubo Onsen Hotel
According to legend, this natural spring was said to have been found by Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. The spring water will leave your skin feeling silky smooth and warm after a hot bath. There is both a jacuzzi and neyu (a bath you can lie down in) in the large public bath, as well as a reserved family bath that, needless to say, is a popular attraction for traveling families. The hotel is recommended for a slow-going, reclusive kind of escape.
Another attraction of the location is Lake Myojin, which can be found right in front of the lounge and is the natural habitat of many birds. The period between autumn and winter is an especially good time for seeing wildlife like birds and squirrels - a sight you can enjoy while sipping hot drinks and having a meal indoors. The convenience of the location for birdwatching is recommended, even for those who have no prior experience.
4. HOSHINOYA Karuizawa
HOSHINOYA has a series of single detached cottages that have been built to conform to the landscape as opposed to the more common other way around. The structures surround a nearby river, from which you'll hear the clear trickling sound of flowing water during your stay. HOSHINOYA is a private resort experience in the wilderness, and the somewhat surreal sanctuary presents a space for blissful relaxation.
The establishment also takes pride in their hot spring, which sources its water from a natural spring. There are two sublime hot springs that are offered exclusively for guests. The first is the meditation bath, oriented to facilitate a serene experience with fine adjustments to the lighting. The other is Tombo no Yu, which offers a view of cherry blossoms, fall leaves, and snowscapes, depending on the season. The unique variance of the baths each leave a lasting impression on your senses, and you may find it difficult to avoid the temptation of taking multiple baths.
Nakadanasou was once closely affiliated with Shimazaki Toson, a prominent naturalist writer in Japan, and its tucked away location and hideaway atmosphere make the location ideal for a restful retreat. The staff take immaculate care to ensure the facilities are pristine, while endeavoring to provide the best possible hospitality during your stay. The Japanese-style inn is especially popular among those interested in getting the full, immersive cultural experience.
The water of the open-air bath is continually replenished and sourced from a natural spring, and you'll have access to an indoor bath as well as a reserved bath. Between October and May, locally grown apples are placed in the baths in homage to a poem about a bittersweet first love written by Shimazaki. The fragrant scent of the apple bath is also a winter seasonal tradition of Nakadanasou.
5 Onsen Hotels in Kita Karuizawa
1. Kose Onsen Hotel
Kose Onsen Hotel can be found in the verdant green depths of a national forest, with its own private hot springs and a menu of dishes prepared by the hotel chef using the freshest seasonal ingredients. The hotel provides a beautiful escape from the towering buildings and monotonous traffic in the city.
You can take a bath in the natural and continuously flowing open-air spring while listening to the pleasant sounds of the running river and gentle rustling of the trees. You'll also have the luxury of solitude while bathing outside in their private reserved bath. On the outer wooden deck, a picturesque backdrop of snow-laden foliage can be seen during the winter, and a chorus of lively birds can be heard in the summer.
2. Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa
Hotel Green Plaza has a children's amusement park called Toy Kingdom and a golf court, providing recreational options to keep guests of all ages entertained. The family-friendly hotel offers plans with free passes to Toy Kingdom, and even has a cottage where you can stay with your dog.
The hotel is located at an elevation of 1,110 meters above sea level, and its natural amber-colored spring, Akatsuki no Yu, has a slightly viscous feel to it. The spring is known for its permeating warmth and abundant flow. Bright, starry skies can be seen aglow in the dark of night from the open-air rock bath, and the natural, distinctive beauty of the trees is a resplendent sight regardless of the season. During the winter, you can envelop yourself in the steamy spring in the crisp and clear air.
3. Yamadaya Onsen
Yamadaya Onsen is known for its abundant supply of natural, continuously flowing hot spring water, which explains the two separate large public baths, two open-air baths, and three private reserved baths (free reservations), in addition to rooms that have their own private baths. Each reserved bath is unique, and you'll want to try as many as you can during the course of your stay, including the Nigori Yu, which has thick, cloudy spring water with many natural minerals.
Meals here are made with local ingredients like Himegoi cabbage and Joshu Wagyu (a type of high-quality beef). One of the specialties is a method of cooking called "kuwayaki", which involves cooking dishes on a piece of cast iron shaped like a hoe. The tradition began with farmers who would grill meats and vegetables on one side of their hoe while they worked the fields. The cooking is as fun to watch as it is delicious to eat, and really hits the spot after a relaxing soak in the hot spring water.
Jizogawa is a tranquil vignette of the Taisho period (1912-1926) whose architecture had just begun to incorporate Western styles, hence producing a familiar, retro ambience. The 3 baths include a private open-air stone bath marked by a lion figurehead, a Japanese cedar bath, and a stone bath characterized by its large decorative rocks. All baths have views of incredible Japanese gardens and will warm you to the core.
Their distinguished repertoire of dishes is made with specialty ingredients from Gunma Prefecture. The 3 different course options, called Matsu, Take, and Umi, involve a sukiyaki nabe (Japanese hot pot), Yamato pork grilled on magnolia leaves, and ji-dori (domestic free-range chiken) nabe, respectively. You can inquire about your meal plan when making a reservation. Paintings and flowers decorate the interior, and the cozy, welcoming elegance characterizes Jizogawa.
5. President Resort KARUIZAWA
President Resort KARUIZAWA offers natural hot spring baths with a view of a scenic expanse that includes Mt. Asama and the Shirane mountain range. The blissful, steamy springs are all situated to capitalize on the surrounding scenery. You can experience the elements of each season in their open-air baths, accompanied by saunas, jacuzzis, a beauty salon, and a spa relaxation spot.
The resort also offers recreational activities like golf, tennis, skiing during the winter, as well a varied selection of other outdoor activities. They also offer cottages where pets are allowed, and the resort generally has the means to accommodate many different interests over the course of your stay. You can enjoy the pleasant scenery while taking in the refreshing Karuizawa air for a resplendent vacation at this resort.
Experience an Unbelievably Relaxing Vacation in the Hot Springs of Karuizawa's Ryokan
Karuizawa once flourished as a post town where travelers could rest amidst their travels during the Edo period (1603-1868). Since then, the area has evolved into a popular summer vacation spot, initially by foreigners, then later by locals. As such, the region melded different cultural influences while seeking to harmonize with its surrounding nature. The result has been the establishment of a globally renowned resort area with fancy restaurants, fashionable shopping outlets, and some stellar hot springs. Karuizawa starkly contrasts the bustle of metropolitan areas in the densely populated areas of Japan, and the pristine natural springs in the tranquility of its fresh air, clear streams, and plentiful wildlife is a spectacular environment to kick back and clear your head.
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Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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Header Image: Benoist / Shutterstock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.