As a volcanically active country, more than 27,000 hot springs (yes, you read that right!) can be found scattered throughout this land of the rising sun. With its unique bathing culture where one bathes together without any article of clothing, a visit to one of their natural bubbling hot springs is often touted as a must do when one’s in Japan.
But let’s be real, the thought of taking a bath, naked, on a large space with strangers can be a little daunting and uncomfortable to say the least. So here are eight lodgings complete with private onsen for you to soak to your heart’s content in the privacy of your own space. And did we mention most of them offer Muslim-friendly meals as well? Talk about the whole package!
1. Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo
For a fine luxurious ryokan experience like no other, look no further than Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo, a Zen-esque Japanese traditional inn cocooned amongst beautiful gardens.
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This 19th-century inn prides itself in its heartwarming service and breathtaking surrounding landscape which changes colours with the season. A small inn with only 17 rooms in total, the rooms are separated into two wings with only rooms located at the “Honkan” main building come with a private onsen. Overlooking their gorgeous artistically crafted garden, expect a lovely and tranquil onsen experience when you’re staying here.
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Do not miss out on their impressive seasonal Kyoto cuisine. Yachiyo began as a restaurant and with the aim of providing the best service to their patrons, they provide Washoku vegetarian course dinner without compromising the traditional taste of Japanese cuisine so an authentic Kaiseki meal is in order! And to top it off, their dining hall boasts a scenic view of their garden, a feast for the eyes to add to your dining experience.
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Address: Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo, 34, Nanzenji Fukuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 606-8435, Japan
2. Sumiya Kiho-an
Situated in the suburb of Kyoto, the elegant Sumiya Kiho-an is perfect for a short getaway away from the touristy part of Kyoto, yet still near enough to the city’s myriad attractions.
Credit: Sumiya Kiho-an Ryokan on Agoda
Posh and refined, their rooms are well-equipped with modern amenities of Wi-Fi, flat screens, minibars, as well kotatsu (coverlet covered table with heater) in some of the rooms. Not only that, many of their rooms come with private open-air onsen which is directly sourced from the nearby Yunohana hot spring known for its healing properties. So take your time and enjoy a rejuvenating bath of warmth and goodness, literally!
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And if that’s not enough, they also offer spa treatment for that extra pampering and care after a whole day of travelling. To add to the good news, they provide vegetarian option upon request! Just remember to confer with them early on when you make your reservation.
Address: 25 Miyanooku Hiedanocho Kakihana, Kameoka 621-0036, Kyoto Prefecture
3. Otaru KOURAKUE
Take a breather at this vast hot spring resort of Otaru Kourakuen, relishing in the seasonal beauty of their stunning Japanese gardens that surrounds the estate.
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The ambience of the inn changes with the season. Nature lovers will have a hard time leaving this place with the enveloping greenery of summer and colourful blooming flowers of azaleas, hydrangeas, roses, and cherry blossoms of the spring. Fall colours the scenery with its many heartwarming shades of reds, oranges, and yellows while winter moves one’s heart with its expansive blanket of snow. Whichever season it is, your stay here is certain to be an unforgettable one.
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All 35 rooms are of Japanese-style with tatami flooring though only 28 of them feature in-room outdoor hot spring bath. However, there is a private onsen you can use on the second floor which requires a reservation on the front desk.
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You’ll also be delighted to know that they offer Muslim-friendly service. Prayer rug, kiblat direction, as well as a map of prayer spaces and halal shops in Otaru are provided for Muslim guests. Not only that, halal meals are available for both breakfast and dinner! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the full ryokan experience of Otaru Kourakuen.
Address: 18-2, Shinko 5, Otaru, 047-0152, Hokkaido, Japan
Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture
4. Kansuiro Ryokan
For lodgings that are closer to Tokyo, the onsen resort town of Hakone is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike for a relaxing excursion away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Just a two-hour train ride away from the metropolitan city of Tokyo, this mountainous town is home to a wide variety of ryokan (a Japanese traditional inn) and one that caters to our needs is the luxurious Kansuiro Ryokan.
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With a long history dated from the early 17th century, a sense of the past lingers as you step into the establishment. Set on a wooden property, the inn retains its heritage which can be seen from its high-tower structure, the many antiques and artefacts that adorn the walls, and its old-world banquet rooms.
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Many of the rooms come with an in-room onsen and are decked out in full Japanese style – tatami flooring, sliding shoji doors, futon beddings along with river views, private verandas, and an exceptional service from the staffs. As for their food, vegetarian option is available, so indulge in their multi-course dinner of kaiseki made with fresh seasonal products! Just remember to inform them when you make your reservation to avoid any difficulties.
Address: 88, Tonosawa, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-Shimogun, Kanagawa, 250-0315, Japan
5. Ichinoyu Shinkan
Are you looking for a more budget-friendly option? Located in the vicinity of popular attractions in Hakone, Ichinoyu Shinkan offers a modest ryokan experience complete with en-suite onsen at an affordable rate!
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A branch of the Ichinoyu Group hotels, this hillside hotel sits on a quiet neighbourhood surrounded by mountains and calming greenery, perfect for a nature retreat. 15 of their 20 rooms come with an open-air hot spring bath and as a guest, you’ll have free access to public onsen of other Ichinoyu group hotels, all of which are in close proximity to one another. So if you’re up for it, go for a hot spring tour and experience the variety of mineral-rich onsen that’ll do wonder to your body, mind, and soul.
Credit: Tounosawa Ichinoyu Shinkan Hotel on Agoda
Breakfast is included in all of their room packages. However, as they do not provide vegetarian meal, opt for the stay-only plan when you’re booking on their website to avoid inclusion of dinner in your total bill.
Address: 54-1 Tonosawa, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-shimogun, Kanagawa 250-0315, Japan
6. Yumotochaya Guest-House Villa
For a homey yet luxurious retreat that can comfortably accommodate large groups, this condominium just may be the one for you.
Cosy and spacious, parents will love this place with its large living room and family-friendly amenities of a snuggly crib, children’s books, and toys to keep your children entertained while parents will appreciate the home’s sophisticated interior design of traditional meets contemporary.
With enough comfy beds to fit up to 12 guests, you’ll also be able to enjoy their outdoor hot spring bath on the villa’s balcony. Overlooking the picturesque scenery of unspoiled nature, a wonderful time awaits you as you dip into the therapeutic waters of their open-air wooden rotenburo, in the comforts of your own space.
Nakanojo, Gunma Prefecture
7. Kashiwaya Ryokan
Nestled in a mountain valley, Shima Onsen is a sleepy hot spring town that is famous with the locals but not so much among overseas tourists. Just a three-hour train ride from the bustling city of Tokyo, this small charming town is an ideal place of a stay for those seeking to have a taste of the Japanese countryside life.
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Kashiwaya Ryokan is a casual inn set along the Shima river right at the entrance to Shima Onsen. As with most ryokan, their rooms are of Japanese-style with the usual tatami mats, futon beddings, and paper-screens partitions. Guests can look forward to enjoying a hot spring bath either in one’s own room or at one of their three traditional open-air private onsen.
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Once you’re done de-stressing and unwinding at their onsen, fill up your tummy with their delicious Japanese cuisine made from seasonal local ingredients. Make a request for their vegetarian menu and relish in the full ryokan experience here at Kashiwaya.
Address: Kashiwaya Ryokan, 3829 Shima, Nakanojo Agatuma-gun Gunma 377-0601, Japan
Ogoto, Shiga Prefecture
8. Satono-yu Mukashibanashi Yuzanso
If you’re coming from Kyoto Prefecture, a 20-minute train ride will get you to Yuzanso, one of the few Muslim-friendly ryokan here in Japan. Located atop a hill right beside Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, a full amazing view of the expansive lake against the blue backdrop of the sky awaits you during your stay here.
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Compare to other ryokan, Yuzanso is a pretty large resort. They house 110 rooms with 51 of them featuring private outdoor onsen at the balcony, complete with a view. So close your eyes and bask in their warm healing waters in full privacy at your own leisurely pace.
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Certified as Muslim-friendly by the Kyoto Council for Sharia and Halal Affairs, Yuzanso is one of the few ryokan that offers halal menu specially made for Muslim guests. Made from locally sourced halal meat and homegrown ingredients, you’re sure to have a memorable time savouring their high-quality delish multicourse meal.
Address: Yuzanso, Ogoto 1-9-28, Otsu-shi, Shiga 520-0101, Japan
No trip to Japan will be complete without a relaxing dip in one of their many famous onsen and now you can do so without any worries of people walking in on you. With these amazing accommodations that come with a private hot spring (and Muslim-friendly meal to boot!), there’s no more excuse to stop you from enjoying a soothing onsen bath on your next trip to the land of the rising sun.