Japan is famous for its beautifully picturesque mountains. In the Japanese prefecture of Gunma, you can see endless gorgeous mountain landscapes, perfect for skiing and hiking. Gunma’s main tourism comes from those wanting to enjoy the snowy scenery of the Japanese Alps. One such place that snow enthusiasts head to is Minakami. The impressive mountain slopes are coated in thick blankets of snow every winter, but you don’t have to endure the cold in order to enjoy this place. After a hard day on the slopes, you can relax in one of the many hot-spring baths that the region specialises in. There are quite a few different ryokans offering onsen to guests, so here is our list of the best tourist-friendly onsen ryokan in Minakami, Gunma Prefecture.
A beautiful ryokan that has everything you need to enjoy the perfect Japanese ski holiday. The ryokan has onsen inside the property so that you can relax your aching muscles and just warm up after spending all day out in the snow. These baths are a big part of Japanese tradition and culture. You can use the public onsen here, but if this doesn’t appeal to you then there are private baths for hire also. This ryokan has traditional-style Japanese rooms, this means that they come with Japanese furniture, comfortable futon mats to sleep on, and woven reed mats known as tatami mats instead of carpets. It is very authentic. The ryokan also serves traditional Japanese meals at their in-house restaurant.
Tatsumikan is another great place for skiers. They have both indoor and outdoor onsen. You can relax inside the perfectly mainlined bathhouse, watching the world go by outside, or you can soak in an onsen that is exposed to the elements. The outdoor onsens are the more traditional type and are more similar to natural hot springs. These baths may not be naturally occurring but the water is real, volcanically heated water that is pumped in from an underground source. The ryokan also offers traditional Japanese-style rooms and meals. The meals are Kaiseki-style meals — a traditional multi-course meal. You get to sample all sort of interesting Japanese morsels that add up to a full meal.
Here we have another traditional Japanese ryokan with all the things you would expect from one. The buildings are decorated in a very simple style making it look authentically Japanese. There are tatami-mat floors and a selection of traditional furniture. It really looks like it leapt off the page of a historical manga. They also offer Kaiseki meals and have both indoor and outdoor onsen. It is a commonly held belief in Japan that there is no better feeling than relaxing in a hot bath as the cold air rushes past your head. It is the ultimate balance between hot and cold.
At Syoubun, guests are treated to sake tasting sessions as well as other cultural activities to make your stay more interesting. The ryokan has a range of onsen baths that you can try out both in and outdoors. They serve meals that are all made with local ingredients in their restaurant. A lot of Japanese food is very seasonal so the menus change regularly so that they can use the freshest of ingredients.
Houshi Onsen Chojukan is one ryokan that has passed the test of time. It has been in operation for over 100 years and continues to serve guests, adhering to the same Japanese values that made it such a success in the previous century. The staff are extremely polite and helpful, they are always on hand to make sure your stay is a pleasant one. Rooms are set out in a traditional Japanese style, as are the onsen. The outdoor onsen is made to look like a naturally occurring hot spring and is the perfect place to relax if you want to experience authentic Japanese culture.
The ryokan sits alongside a river and is surrounded by scenic hiking routes. Perfect for those wanting to get back to nature. The staff offer a pickup service from the station and are always on hand to help out guests. For breakfast, you can choose from either a traditional Kaiseki-style breakfast or a western breakfast. There is an indoor and outdoor onsen to choose from, or you can just relax with a massage offered at the spa.
Guests of Keisetsu no Yado Shobun get the chance to soak in their very own open-air onsen. Total privacy is offered with the onsen being attached to rooms. Rooms come in both western and Japanese styles. You don’t have to sleep on a Japanese futon if that is not comfortable for you. The chefs cook local speciality food that is made with fresh ingredients supplied by local farmers.
Keisetsu no Yado Shobun
Address: 277 Tsunago, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma Prefecture
Price: from 358 USD
Access: From Minakami Station (JR Joetsu Line): About 15 minutes by bus. * Shuttle service available (reservation required). From Minakami Station: 15:00. From Keisetsu no Yado Shobun: 10:10. By car: Exit the Kanetsu Expressway at Minakami IC and continue for about 15 minutes. Take Route 291 north towards Fujiwara / Yunokoya (Prefectural Route 61). Located before the Okutone Ski area.
Matsunoi Ryokan Onsen is situated on the Tone River and has rooms with views of the Ose and Tani rivers as well. The area is full of picturesque sites and even has a totally natural onsen. You can relax in a real hot spring just as the ancient Japanese people did. If you are looking for something beyond natural beauty the ryokan has a spa and entertainment centre where you can relax with a massage or rent out a private karaoke room to sing your hear out. Finally, for the thrill seekers out there, visitors to the area can bungee jump down the high mountains of Gunma.
Address: 551 Yubara, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma Prefecture
Price: from 75 USD
Access: By car: Exit the Kan-etsu Expressway at Minakami IC and continue along Route 291 for about 5 min (4 km). From Minakami Station (JR Joetsu Line): About 15 min on foot or about 3 min by taxi.
Visitors to Kinseikan Seseragi can enjoy fantastic views of both the rivers and the mountains from their rooms. The rooms are all Japanese style and set out with traditional furniture. There is an onsen in the ryokan, you can also rent out a private experience in the onsen or rent a room with your very own onsen attached.
Address: 544 Tanigawa, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma
Price: from 395 USD
Access: Every guestroom of our Japanese-style inn presents a view of the river and superb view of the surrounding mountains. We offer a relaxing stay with comfortable hot-spring baths and delicious cuisine that features fresh, local ingredients.
Sarugaukyo Hotel has superb views of the nearby Akaya Lake. There are both Western-style and Japanese-style rooms that look out upon it. There is a shuttle bus to the hotel from Gokan station and the staff are always ready to assist. There are large outdoor baths for both men and women and the chefs prepare fresh Kaiseki meals using local ingredients everyday. This is a great place for those wanting to visit some picturesque winter spots.
Address: 1171 Sarugakyo Onsen, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma
Price: from 148 USD
Access: From Jomo-Kogen Station (JR Jo-etsu Shinkansen): Take the bus to Sarugakyo (about 35 minutes). About 10 minutes on foot or 5 minutes by taxi from there. By car: Exit the Kan-etsu Expressway at Tsukiyono IC and continue along Route 17 for about 25 minutes (16 km).
Snowy and superb
Minakami is a fun place to visit if you want to get off the beaten path. It’s great for skiing but there is more to do and see there than just that. It’s an icy paradise and a look at Japanese culture outside of the big cities.
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