In the mountains near Mt. Asama in Gunma Prefecture there is Kayabukinosato Yakushi Onsen Hatago (Hatago the medicinal hot springs in the homeland of the thatched roofs). On about 25000 sq ft of land there are several thatched roof houses and it feels like you have stepped back into the Edo Period. With an atmosphere of nostalgia mixed with aggressive modern design this inn is absolutely stunning! Don’t forget there is a 200 year old hot spring that is flowing out by itself as well as the hospitality that you can only get here. This is an authentic Japanese inn.
A thatched roof entrance greeting
Kayabukinosato Yakushi Onsen Hatago is near the old Kusatsu road near Mt. Asama in Gunma Prefecture. Unlike the busy Kusatsu or Ikaho onsen towns this area is surrounded by mountains and is relatively quiet.
The first thing you see of the inn is the “Yakushionsen Nagayamon” (medicinal hot spring main building gate) with its thatched roof. Built using old materials from houses from Tohoku region’s wealthy and village heads, it uses a style of roof called “Gassho Kirizuma Zukuri”. It is extremely impressive. You check in while you hold onto your feelings of anticipation while going through the gate.
In front of the gate is the parking lot, and you are greeted by staff while you are pulling up. The reception area is through the gate and down some stairs. You can give your heavy luggage to the staff and they will take it to your room.
As soon as you step through the gate you are transported to the Edo Period. There are several thatched roof buildings and the greenery filled mountains make for an amazing sight as do the greenery on the grounds. You will be thoroughly impressed. So much so you will be letting out oohs and ahhs the whole way to the front desk.
A nostalgic room to relax in with antique furniture and a hearth
You check in at the rest area next to the front desk while you relax with a welcome drink. The staff carefully explains the facilities as well as dinner and breakfast times, you can also have the staff leave the futon after or breakfast or not. This type of hospitality is really heartwarming.
There are only 27 rooms but the variety is large such as rooms with a bath half outdoor, or Maisonette type etc. From all the rooms you can see all types of trees that reflect the 4 seasons, and at the Seseragi building you can even see the small river. Here you can relax to your core with the running river and the bird songs.
The interior of all the rooms are stylishly Japanese with a small hearth and the antique furniture. Even the standard rooms are quite large and spacious.
In the room there are Yukata and some room wear, the room wear for going to the dining hall and the yukata for sleeping. An awesome bit of service.
Listen to a waterfall while enjoying an outdoor natural hot spring bath
Yakushionsen means the natural hotspring that flows out by itself here at this inn. It is said to have been discovered about 200 years ago. The clear water with no aroma is very silky and it is a perfect temperature.
Takimi no Yu the bath where you can watch the waterfall is a real draw here. There aren’t many places where you can bathe while watching a waterfall. Many guests stay here just for this bath alone. Surrounded by greenery and negative ions and the sounds from the falling water you definitely will relax in this bath. At night the falls are lit up and the whole experience becomes almost magical. This is possibly the best outdoor bath out there.
For indoor baths there are “Yakushi no Yu”, “Neyu”, “Germanium no Yu” and all are open 24 hours a day. In the day time the surrounding greenery is really beautiful. Both the Takimi no Yu and Yakushi no Yu are natural constantly flowing type onsens.
Also there is the Sato no Yu which uses fresh medicinal herbs that have healing qualities. (This is the only one that is restricted to guests of the hotel)
At night a must go to is the Yakushi Bar. It’s located between the Takimi no Yu and the indoor baths, how about a cold one after a nice long bath. A good cocktail while watching the lit up waterfall scene is truly awesome. If you’re lucky you can see some wild raccoons or a flying squirrel.
Many things to see on such large grounds
Outside of the grounds is nothing but on the 25000 sq ft grounds is a lot of the things to see and do! You can hang out all day just here.
All of the thatched roof buildings used to be homes and were relocated to this area. Upon realizing that people used to live here you are awestruck at the impressiveness of these buildings. Each has been transformed into things like a museum, dining hall, a desert eatery, and rest house as well as others. Take a tour of the thatched roof buildings with a map in hand. It’s almost like a small adventure and really fun.
Also, the thing we most recommend is to visit the Hamadatei building which also doubles as the dinner hall, and the Makuragi Hiroba in front of that. A large flat floor building like Hamadatei is apparently very rare in all of Japan.
In front of such an impressive building is the Makuragi Hiroba (Railroad tie square) which is a square paved with wooden railroad ties and its beauty is simply stunning. You can see this square from the rest area next to the lobby and it reminds you of the beauty of Japan.
Dinner is Kaiseki style from the hearth
Dinner is served at either Hamadatei or Shorinka. The dinner is Irori Kaiseki so each table has a small hearth on it.
Fresh local Gunma produce such as vegetables, river fish, and meats are all absolutely delicious. The staff grills each dish on the hearth while they explain it to you and it becomes part of the entertainment almost. It’s fun and tasty at the same time.
The appetizer and side dishes are elegantly set and are subtly flavored. Each is a dish that is immensely satisfying.
The dishes vary with the plan that you choose so please verify when making the reservations. If you have any allergies please let them know then as well.
It’s not far off to say everything here from the building, rooms, onsen, meals, and view are damn near perfect. The best part is the staff and their warm hospitality, which is the epitome of a true Japanese inn.
Only a 2 to 2 and half hour drive or train ride from the metropolis it is relatively easy to get to. If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life step back in time and be comforted body and soul here where you will be refreshed quickly.
Although there is nothing around this area you can definitely explore the inn and its facilities with joy. Take a look at the thatched roof houses as well as maybe make your own soba noodles, or just enjoy the onsen. There are many ways to enjoy this hotel.
Lake Haruna and Mt. Haruna are only 20 to 30 minutes’ drive away. Also, Gunma Safari Park and the Tomioka silk factory is only an hour or so away so doing some Gunma tourism is also an option you should keep in mind!