Sakaiya Ryokan in Ryujin Onsen , Wakayama is one of the top 3 beautifying hot springs in Japan!

Review of 坂井屋旅館 | 和歌山県田辺市龍神村龍神56
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Onsen Sommelier Gucchi
Updated Jun 13, 2017

The top 3 onsens that have beautifying qualities in Japan are Kawanaka Onsen in Gunma, Yu no Kawa Onsen in Shimane, and Ryujin Onsen in Wakayama. Onsens have to be one of the following to be considered beautifying, sodium bicarbonate spring, sulfate spring, a sulfur spring and weakly alkaline in nature.

Ryujin Onsen is both sodium bicarbonate spring, and weakly alkaline, so it’s double the power! Also, among the onsens in Ryujin Onsen area, the Sakaiya Ryokan is one of the few that are drawing the hot water directly from the source spring and so it is one I really recommend.

The hot water spring that flows deep in the forests of Wakayama Prefecture


Ryujin Onsen is a small onsen town that is deep in the moutains of Wakayama Prefecture consisting only of 20 or so small inns along the Hidakagawa River. Legend has it that En no Gyōja Ozunu (the Ascetic from the En clan) found this place first, then later Koubou Daishi (Kukai) was told in a dream to open an onsen by Nanda Ryuo (the dragon king of Nanda) and name it Ryujin Onsen (Onsen of the dragon god).

This onsen is full of sodium bicarbonate which is said to be really good for beautifying skin.

In reality there is only one bath house that draws the pure fresh hot spring water up without adding any antibiotics to the water, which is the Sakaiya Ryokan. Also, Sakaiya Ryokan doesn’t allow visitor bathing so this article will only be about staying there as a guest for the night.

The building is a 2 story wooden build, and it almost feels like you arrived at your grandmother’s house.

I was lucky because on the day I came to cover this story I was the only person staying here which allowed me to have all they offer to myself.

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

A spacious room with a large balcony


There are several types of rooms but I reserved the room with a balcony. The reason why I chose this is so that I won’t have to worry about smoke filling up the room when I light up a cig. Another thing is they have a chair out there so you can just relax and enjoy the view.

From the window you can look down onto the famous Ryokan Kami Goeten temple of Ryujin Onsen.

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

One small bath house only


This is the only bath house in Sakaiya Ryokan. So, guests here at this inn have to switch out and enjoy it to themselves. The room and tub are small but perfect for the amount of water that is being drawn up.

Of course I like outdoor baths with great views, or large bath tubs but it all depends on the onsen. Every onsen has a different amount of water springing up. Thus, I think it’s very important to create a bath tub and room to fit based on how much pure fresh onsen water you can really enjoy.

I am sure Sakaiya Ryokan is well versed in the intricacies of onsens. And I fully agree with their policy of keeping the bath small yet of high quality.

The onsen type here is sodium bicarbonate and rare in most of Japan. It kindly softens up dead skin and removes it.

It is like doing a full body peel so make sure to keep warm afterward. This really makes your skin glow and your beauty level will jump up because of that.

Depending on the temperature outside the water may or may not be heated. This time it was the end of August and a bit chilly so they heated the water just a little.

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

A happy 1 night 2 day stay where I had the bath all to myself 3 times!


In case you were wondering I stayed a total of 2 days and I was able to enjoy the facilities 3 times all to myself.

In fact I was the only guest in the inn so I was even able to ask the lady proprietor in the morning to not heat the water and let me try the pure unadulterated water. It really felt tepid probably around 38 degrees or so, but it was really comforting! Any onsen lover would enjoy this!

Basically the hot spring water here hass no color or scent, but if you really take a deep whiff at the spout you can catch the fresh onsen aroma, which is soft and warm. The water is pretty soft and is a bit slippery feeling.

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

This onsen is one for the ladies out there

For those ladies who put in a lot of daily effort in skin care, I highly recommend coming here to Sakai Ryokan, take a bath and really feel the effects here. I am sure you will be satisfied.

This inn isn’t luxurious by any means, but they are very clean and neat. Also, their rates are very reasonable at less than 10000 JPY a night perfect for those who only are asking for the best of hot spring water.

I think a combo trip of Kouyasan, Ryujin Onsen, or Shirahama Onsen and Ryujin Onsen would be a good trip.

Just a word of warning the Kii peninsula roads are very steep and curvy mountain roads that are narrow as well. So before you head to Ryujin Onsen really make sure you pre-plan your route there thoroughly before heading out.

[Name] Sakaiya Ryokan [Address] 645-0525 Ryujin 56, Ryujin Town, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture [Tel] 0739-79-0019 [Visitor bath hours] N/A [Onsen type] sodium bicarbonate [Water use] straight from spring (no added water, added heat somtiems, and no antibiotics.) [pH] 8.1 (weak alkaline) [Temp] 47.2?

This article was originally published on Sep 23, 2015

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