Nikko Kanaya Hotel, the Oldest Resort Hotel in Japan Full of Historic Charm!

Review of Nikko Kanaya Hotel | Kamihatsuishi-machi 1300
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Japan’s oldest western style hotel the Nikko Kanaya Hotel overlooks the world heritage site Nikko Tosho-gu and Shinkyo, and you can take in the view of the many mountains of Nikko from here. It opened its doors in the turbulent times of the Meiji period as a resort hotel for foreign dignitaries and scholars and was loved by many. It continues to evolve to this day.

Nikko Kanaya Hotel, a resort hotel that you should stay in at least once in your lifetime

Japan’s oldest resort hotel Nikko Kanaya Hotel was started by Zenichirou Kanaya creating an inn for foreigners at his own house called the Kanaya Cottage Inn, in 1873. In 1893 Kanaya Hotel was opened where it currently stands, and during Meiji to Show Eras the new building, annex and new annex buildings were built. The main building is built from wood with parts built out of Oya tuff stone and is 3 stories tall, mixing the beauty of Japanese and Western architecture and retains the elegance of the Meiji Period.

What you can’t pass up is the ever changing view of the Nikko Kanaya Hotel’s pride garden with Nikko mountain range as a back drop, which gives so many guests peace of mind.

Past the garden the Otanikawa River flows past, and because of the well-manicured foot paths you can get right down to the river’s edge. To your right you’ll see Shinkyo bridge as well. This is the best position to be in to really take in the whole bridge.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in nikko and also compare the prices with airbnbs in nikko

The whole of Nikko Kanaya Hotel is a national registered tangible cultural property

With a 140 year history spanning the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, and finally in the Heisei Period, the friendliness here hasn’t changed and has been a part of modern history. The building has been a registered tangible cultural property since November of 2005.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in nikko and also compare the prices with airbnbs in nikko

The impressive front lobby of Nikko Kanaya Hotel warrants a look around!

Pass through the rotating front door and you come to the front desk that looks like it has a lot of history. Above the rotating door you’ll find a moment carved in Nikko Carving style called Nikko-cho Chokoku style, which you can see at Nikko Tosho-gu shrine. The wall of the check in counter is tiled in marble and you can pictures of famous people who are related to the Nikko Kanaya Hotel. These are the inventor of the Hepburn system (of romaji), and the first guest at the Kanaya Cottage Inn, Professor Hepburn, as well as the founder Zenichirou Kanaya, and the British traveler Isabella Bird.

Also on the counter are 2 rare and valuable lightstands from 1907. Looking around its striking how many things you find that are a mix of Japanese and western cultures and how in harmony they are creating this tasteful atmosphere.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in nikko and also compare the prices with airbnbs in nikko

The view of the Nikko mountain range from the rooms are a definite spectacle to behold!

There are a total of 71 guest rooms at the Nikko Kanaya Hotel. The size and type differ based on room type, but each room has its own individual design to it. There are the 30sqm with a view rooms the Standard Twin or Corner Twin, as well as the Delux Type which is representative of the Kanaya Hotel in the main building, annex and the number 2 new building. The basic room is the Standard A. Standard B rooms are a bit smaller and perfect for single travelers. Then there are the Twin with Shower rooms.

Whichever room you stay in each is furnished differently.

Then you have the “Hotel in Hotel” room, the only one in the world, which was designed by the broadcast writer Koyama Kundou. Everything about it is charmingly unique from the bed, to the audio system to the furnishings and decorations. The atmosphere here feels like you are staying at a high end vacation home.

The strange rooms are the ones that have no bath but only a shower. Back when these were built they were meant for foreign guests and didn’t have bathtubs.

To satisfy your hunger, head to the second floor of the main building and to the dining hall. You can dine on the traditional Kanaya Hotel’s French cuisine. The Kanaaya style sautéed rainbow trout is highly recommended here.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in nikko and also compare the prices with airbnbs in nikko

The Nikko Kanaya Hotel was loved by many such as Helen Keller, and even Einstein

The large window in the first floor lobby lets you feel the majesty of the Nikko Mountains and in a corner there is an area that displays some of the important documents of the Kanaya Hotel. Near the hall a scroll that depicts the thousand person procession at Nikko Tosho-gu shrine is hung.

A must see here are the actual signatures of great people such as Helen Keller, A. Einstein, Lindbergh, Indira Gandhi, Yoshida Shigeru, and many others. The signatures of these historic people are quite moving.

Outside there is also the “Kanaya no Jikan” (the time of Kanaya) and the “Kuradashi Shashinkan” (warehouse photogallery) which also show the history of the Nikko Kanaya Hotel.

At the Maple Leaf coffee lounge, you can have the 100 Year Curry Rice which is a revival of their original menu item, which you can choose from beef, duck, or chicken flavors. They spend a whopping 3 days from prep to finish so the flavor is rich and deep and you should definitely try it out.

At the lounge bar enjoy a drink in the great atmosphere with the fireplace, and a vacuum tube amp sound system playing soft jazz.

In closing

The Nikko Kanaya Hotel is the perfect place to stay as a central spot for your Nikko temple sightseeing with the world heritage site the Nikko Tosho-gu shrine only a 15 minute walk away. With history dating back to the Meiji Period it almost feels like you slipped back in time when you stay here. The longing for the good old days and the gorgeous atmosphere here really makes for easy recommendation when traveling to the Nikko area. Oh and before I forget don’t miss out on the bread from the Kanaya Bakery.

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