New Year's ryokan stay, Kanto
July 5, 2014 11:42 AM   Subscribe

We'll be in Tokyo between December 27-January 2 at the tail end of our honeymoon, right in the middle of the New Year holidays. Help us add a ryokan stay and onsen relaxation to our itinerary!

We've both spent a lot of time in Japan, and can usually manage enough Japanese to handle bookings and decode online information - however, we don't have any personal experience with any Kanto-area ryokan.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a ryokan with an onsen that isn't three transfers and a shaky bus ride away from Tokyo? We're on a pretty tight itinerary, and it looks like our best bet is to do it on December 30th - perilously close to New Year's Eve and the traditional closing of most businesses. A huge bonus to any recommendation would be that of a place known to be open over New Year's.

As it's our honeymoon, we're willing to pay above average prices for fantastic experiences, but we've got nothing against good old fashioned budget options either! The only must is either a nice onsen or an outstanding rotenburo. I'd be happy to elaborate on anything else that would make recommendations easier to specify.
posted by harujion to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know any specific places in Kanto but have had great success with this site:
posted by slipperynirvana at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2014

Seconding Japanese Guest Houses, there are pictures, reviews, and they even do the reservations for you.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:15 AM on July 7, 2014

The bad news is that most of the ryokan and minshuku in Japan shut down for New Years. It's very much a go home and be with family sort of holiday, and that's when the owners and operators do just that.

If you're okay with hotel/resort style onsens, my wife and I had a wonderful time at the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel a couple years back. It's quite close to Nikko, but on a slightly different train line. You use the Tobu line from Asakusa, I believe, and you can even get a private booth on the train, complete with door, if you're willing to pay the extra.

The hotel itself is built on a rock outcropping that diverts the river, and the river runs through a valley floor, surrounded by mountains. There are rooms with private rotenburo, though we didn't have one. They have some absolutely beautiful Japanese style rooms, as well as some great food.

Down the road, there is a detached rotenburo complex owned by the hotel, and different packages give you a ticket to use it. The hotel provides wooden sandals and a traditional warm coat to wear over your yukata on your walk to the complex, which is ten or twelve huts with awesome rotenburo in a kind of walled garden setting.

When we were there, we went to the in-hotel rotenburo before dinner, and it began snowing. Sitting in the rotenburo, which is basically an open floor of the hotel, looking out on a massive snow flurry was an amazing experience. Even better was walking through the freshly fallen snow after dinner on out way to the rotenburo complex in our coats and geta, trying not to slip and fall, and just marveling at how quiet everything was.

Also, it's close to Tobu World Square, which is its own brand of silliness.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:56 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks Ghidorah - that's a great tip! Just the sort of information I was hoping to get.
posted by harujion at 7:21 AM on July 13, 2014

Harujion, you might want to check their site, if you're interested. When I looked, there were rooms available before New Years (around the 29th), but not after New Years. I hope you guys have a great trip, wherever you end up going.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2014

My Waifu and I went during winter last year, and it was quite nice. I recommend a two night stay in Hakone, as it's very famous for its onsen and there's plenty to occupy yourself with, not the least of which is an absolutely fantastic open-air sculpture museum. There's a lot of competition in that city, so most of the onsen should be open over the new year, as they thrive on tourists Japanese and foreign alike. It's also a quick "romance car" hop skip and jump from Shinjuku (or several other) station.

This is the place we went. It was a very convenient location, just far enough from the main road and station to be somewhat isolated, but close enough that it was very easy to find and nothing more than a quick four minute walk. It also had a mostly outdoor (covered roof, but open everything else) private onsen and better traditional Japanese food than I was expecting. Pretty much anywhere will be fine, especially if you spend a bit more for one of the super famous upscale places. It's your honeymoon, so I recommend you do that.

If you're looking for something more out of the way, and feeling at least a little bit athletic, I recommend Hakuba; it's a ski resort town, and has an onsen at which I had one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life, similar to Ghidorah's I'm sure, with flurries of snow. I went with some friends and as such, didn't look for a private outdoor onsen that can seat waifu and hazubando, but I'm sure they're out there.
posted by GoingToShopping at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2014

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