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Japan possesses thousands of hot springs (onsen in Japanese) and is also known as the biggest hot spring country. There are lots of hot springs which have some of the most unique characteristics of hot springs all over the country. For example, some hot springs have different temperatures of hot water and some hot springs have beneficial effects on a part of the body or beauty etc. So if you have a plan to stay in Japan, I recommend you to stay at an onsen ryokan which is the Japanese traditional accommodation with a hot spring, for at least one night, instead of a normal hotel. This way you can experience the Japanese pure and unique style. This might be one of the unforgettable memories of your trip in Japan.

This time, I would like to introduce you to the top 8 onsen ryokan, which come highly recommended by the onsen writers and travel journalists in the Kanto region. 

1. Sekizenkan Ryokan, Shima Onsen [Gunma]

Photo by  Kentaro Ohno on Flickr

Built in 1691, this Onsen Ryokan consists of a main building which is famous as the oldest hot spring building in Japan and was designated as an important prefectural cultural asset. “Genroku no Yu bathhouse” was built in 1930 and is registered as a national cultural asset and there are 7 inner baths and open-air hot springs in total.

It is also said that this place is one of the models of the onsen ryokan “Yuya” in the popular animation film of Ghibli, “Spirited Away”.  

2. Chigira Jinsentei, Ikaho Onsen [Gunma]



This hot spring is famous because Roka Tokutomi, who was a great literary figure in the Meiji period, always stayed here. Each bath flows with rich and golden hot water coming down from Ikaho.

3. Hoshi Onsen Chojukan, Hoshi Onsen [Gunma]



Built in 1875 (Meiji period), it’s worth visiting here to soak up the quaint atmosphere of a ryokan which reminds you of lodging in the Edo period.

4. Gunma Kusatsu Hotel [Gunma]



This is a Japanese-style, retro yet calm-feeling ryokan. Approximately 100% of the food is made fresh, which is a charm point.

5. Bansuiro Fukuzumi, Hakoneyumoto Onsen [Kanagawa]



This place is famous as one of the old established ryokan in Hakone Yumoto. This beautiful ryokan combines European architecture with Japanese Sukiya-zukuri tea ceremony house style and is designated as a cultural asset of national importance.

6. Gourakansuiroku, Hakone Goura Onsen [Kanagawa]



This wooden quaint old ryokan took over the villa of the Great Mitsubishi Zaibatsu (a literary financial clique), the Iwasaki family. You can enjoy walking around the garden and admire the beauty of nature during the season of new green leaves and autumn leaves.

7. Kakumeikan Matsuzakaya Honten, Hakone Ashinoyu Onsen [Kanagawa] 

This onsen ryokan is old-established and has a history of more than 300 years. You will enjoy the quality and efficacy of the hot spring which is one of 7 major hot springs in Hakone. The building was renovated once in 2008 and has been changed to new and nice buildings within the old-fashioned exterior.

8. Zekuu, Kamogawa Onsen [Chiba]



The hot spring has clear water with a light scent of sulfur. There are 3 kinds of chartered open-air baths which have great ocean view of Sotobou. You can also enjoy the view of the sunrise from the room. This will be one of your finest memories of your trip to Japan.

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