What kind of luxury traditional onsen ryokan is Gora Kadan?
In early April, when the cherry blossoms were beginning to bloom here and there, we took Odakyu Romancecar from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station, which took about 80 minutes, and transferred to Hakone Tozan Railway, arriving at Gora Station in 35 minutes. Upon arrival at Gora Station, we called the ryokan and requested a pick-up service, and after a five-minute wait, a staff member arrived to pick us up. We took the shuttle and arrived at the ryokan in about 2 minutes. The walk from the station is about 5 minutes.
The ryokan looked like a high-class ryokan in Kyoto, with a traditional bamboo arrowhead made on the gate fence. Once inside the grounds, the pathway was like a garden designed with stone tatami mats, moss, lanterns, and stones, creating a special ambience just by stepping inside. A traditional stone wash basin was placed at the entrance, and the sound of well water flowing from the stone basin was a pleasant sensation. A sliding glass door made of shoji-like wooden latticework opened onto a spacious lobby with a dynamic cherry blossom arrangement and a large window overlooking the Hakone mountains on the left. Hakone has some wonderful traditional ryokans, but perhaps only here can you experience the depth of first-rate, highly skilled Japanese architecture and traditional culture that you do not normally see.
Then, down the stairs in the lobby, there was a souvenir shop on the right and the famous 120-meter long cloister in front of us. We were overwhelmed by the dynamic wooden frames and pillars used from the high ceiling to the floor, and the sunlight streaming in from the outside. We were so impressed by the view and the sky from this space, which is a masterpiece of architectural technology, that we stopped many times to look at it from different angles.
At the end of the corridor, there was an elegant bamboo grove and a moon-viewing terrace. There was still time before check-in, so we decided to take a swim in a heated swimming pool on the first floor. Perhaps this is the only place where the bright cobalt blue of the swimming pool and the Japanese garden blend so beautifully. There was also a Jacuzzi outside. We enjoyed the Jacuzzi while looking at the Japanese garden. The roof of the swimming pool was covered with a block of glass, which let in soft light. The temperature of the heated pool is about 28 degrees Celsius, and it is available all year round. The hours of use are from 8:00 to 18:00.
It was almost time to check in, so the staff showed us to a private room in a restaurant in a Western-style building. This restaurant was built about 100 years ago, but was very well maintained. We had soybean flour cakes and green tea here.
Then, a male staff member in a hakama showed us to a room where we would be staying for the night. Hakama outfits are very appropriate for such a wonderful Japanese architecture as Gora Kadan. This time, we booked a Japanese-style room with a private outdoor hot spring bath called “Aoi” on 1F. This room has a wonderful Japanese garden and is very popular. I wanted to view this Japanese garden while enjoying the private outdoor hot spring bath, and my wish finally came true. Since the room is at the far end of the building, we walked down a long hallway after getting off the elevator.
Pulling the lattice door at the entrance of the room, we took off our shoes here, and once inside, the hallway was also covered with tatami mats, and as we proceeded, we found a bed room on the left, two living rooms on the right, and a terrace with the Japanese garden and the private outdoor hot spring bath at the back. The room was very spacious and we loved a relaxed ambience. Everything here, from the furnishings and ikebana to the furniture and décor to the Japanese garden, was top-notch. It was like a condensed version of traditional Japanese culture.
Then the most impressive thing to us was the amazingly wonderful authentic Japanese garden viewed from a bamboo deck called engawa. It was incredible to have this view all to ourselves for the duration of our stay. There are really only a few places in Japan where you can enjoy a private outdoor hot spring bath with a view of a Japanese garden, such as those in temples in Kyoto.
First, we decided to enjoy the private outdoor hot spring bath. It was still chilly in the cherry blossom season, but it was the perfect season for outdoor hot spring baths. I felt like I was in another world as I soaked in the hot spring bath while gazing at the clear blue sky, bright green moss and trees, and the tastefully designed Japanese garden with its magnificent garden stones, lanterns, and bamboo fence.
After this we headed to communal outdoor and indoor hot spring baths on the grounds. The entrance to the communal baths was small, but the tasteful stone pavement, white walls, and beams on the ceiling were impressive. Once inside, we found a sophisticated indoor bath and an outdoor bath that looked like a pond in a Japanese garden. I had heard that the ryokan was fully booked, so I thought the communal baths would be crowded, but no one was there. The cleaning staff were in and out frequently, putting away used towels immediately and cleaning around the washbasin frequently.
When we left the communal baths, a staff member was waiting for us at the entrance and guided us to a library salon right in front of us. It was like a sophisticated lounge with massage machines, deck chairs, magazines, and complimentary matcha, sakura, ginger tea to make us feel at home. We sat in a large window overlooking a magnificent weeping cherry tree and enjoyed tea and a wonderful view. The sakura tea, served while admiring the cherry blossoms with their elegant pink color and lovely petals, was an experience beyond words.
We had some time before dinner, so we went back to our room to rest. Then, after a while, a staff member came to our room and guided us to a dinner place. This was helpful because this ryokan is as big as a maze.
Then we had dinner and breakfast in a private dining room. We were probably guided to the private room because we were a group of 6 people, but I guess a smaller group would have meals served in your room. Then I had high expectations for kaiseki dinner, but considering the price range, it was nothing special. I was disappointed that there were no memorable dishes. Also, although the serving and food were beautiful. The portion was average. Breakfast was similarly disappointing, with no surprises or discoveries. 10 years ago, this would have been fine, but there are many famous gourmet ryokans now in Hakone, so perhaps I am comparing myself to them.
After dinner, we decided to take a walk around the building. The famous corridor near the lobby, which we saw during the day, created a different ambience at night. From the terrace at the back of the corridor, we looked up to see a full moon in the night sky, and the illuminated bamboo grove and corridor against the backdrop of the Hakone mountains was breathtakingly beautiful.
The next morning, I woke up before 6:00 a.m. and sat on the engawa made of bamboo, admiring the Japanese garden all the time without getting tired of it. As dawn broke, the sky became brighter and the atmosphere changed from mystical to open.
Then before breakfast, I visited a private family hot spring bath. The entrance was located a little ahead of the communal baths. The sign is small, so you may not notice it unless you are guided to it. A little further down the path are two small huts. The first hut is the bedrock sauna room and next to it is the private family bath. A samue outfit, water, and towels were provided. The bedrock sauna was at a moderate temperature and I almost fell asleep. After that, I used the private family bath, but it was too small, dark, and had no view. The private family bath is always free for guests, but guests staying in rooms without hot spring baths may be given priority.
If I had to pick a flaw, it would be the food, as mentioned above. It may be authentic kaiseki cuisine, but it was standard Japanese food. However, the architecture, Japanese garden, landscaping, furniture, interior, and decorations are top-notch and well worth a visit. If you are a keen observer of Japanese culture and architecture, as I am, you may find yourself stopping several times during your stay.
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Is the location easy to access?
If you are going from Tokyo Station, take the Shinkansen bullet train to JR Odawara Station. Then transfer to Hakone Tozan Railway or Odakyu Romancecar to Hakone-Yumoto Station. From there, transfer to Hakone Tozan Railway and get off at Gora Station. It takes 5min on foot from the station, or a free shuttle service is available. You need to call at 0460-82-3331 when you arrive at the station. *All Hakone Tozan Railways departing from Odawara Station terminate at Hakone-Yumoto Station. Hakone Tozan Railways bound for Gora require a transfer at Hakone-Yumoto Station.
Alternatively, take Odakyu Romancecar from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Then transfer to Hakone Tozan Railway and get off at Gora Station.
Then, if you are taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to JR Odawara Station, you need to pay attention to your luggage. Please check here for details. When boarding the Shinkansen, luggage whose total of three sides exceeds 160 cm requires advance reservation of a seat with an oversized luggage space. Baby strollers, musical instruments, bicycles, surfboards, etc. are excluded. Items may be brought in as long as they are placed in a special bag and can stand up.
Passengers bringing oversized baggage without an advance reservation will be charged a carry-on fee of 1,000 JPY. In such cases, the baggage needs to be placed in an area designated by the crew. Also, large luggage is not allowed in unreserved seats on the Shinkansen. Then, children under 6 years old usually do not need a ticket, but if a preschooler uses the Shinkansen, a reserved seat ticket for preschoolers is required to be purchased.
On Odakyu Romancecars, the size of luggage is limited to a total of no more than 250 centimeters on three sides and no longer than 2 meters in length. The weight is limited to 30 kg, and up to two pieces may be carried on board as long as they do not interfere with the operation of the train or inconvenience other passengers. Exercise equipment such as ski boards, snowboards, bicycles, etc. may be brought in as long as they are placed in a special bag and can stand up. Strollers are folded and placed in front of the seats. Then normally, children under 6 years of age do not need a ticket, but when using a seat on an Odakyu Romancecar, a child’s express ticket and a ticket for children are required. However, if you hold a child on your lap, a limited express ticket and a boarding pass are not required. Please refer to the info.
Where is the best accommodation for anniversaries in Hakone?
If you are looking for a nice place for a special occasion, the property would be one of the best. The staff arranges cakes to celebrate an anniversary at an additional charge if you request in advance.
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Rooms I would recommend?
If you are going to stay here, I would recommend a room with an outdoor private hot spring bath. We really felt the luxury and authenticity at once. Facilities tend to be the latest. On the other hand, standard rooms would not be recommended. This is because the furnishings and interior of the rooms have a worn-out look.
If you don’t want to sleep on Japanese-style mattresses on tatami mats, you may want to book a room with twin beds.
Then families with small children are recommended to stay in rooms with private hot spring baths. Babies requiring diapers are not allowed to use the communal baths and the private family bath on the grounds.
How about toiletries and in-room amenities?
All of the amenities are taken care of including enough toiletries, yukatas, bathrobes, bottled water, and a green tea set, etc. There was no coffee machine in our room. Also, a humidifier, a CD player, and a DVD player were placed in our room. The free Wi-Fi reception was good. Room service is available for 24H. There is no convenience store nearby. You may want to buy your necessities before visiting here.
How about In-house Facilities?
Gora Kadan is not a universal design but I heard that there are some rooms for wheelchair users. Wheelchairs are available for borrowing. If you bring people with weak legs, you may want to inform the staff in advance as they can arrange a room near the lift.
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Then a wonderful indoor pool, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, and a gym are available for free. The swimming pool with the Jacuzzi is open between 7:00 and 19:00. The gym is open between 8:00 and 18:00. Swimwear, running shoes, and sportswear, etc., are available for rent.
Also, there are large communal outdoor and indoor hot spring baths. The spring quality is like skin lotion. They are open from 15:00 to 11:00 the following morning.
Then, there is a private family hot spring bath. You can use it for 40min for free. It is open from 6:15 to 22:40.
If you have tattoos, you may not be available for the communal baths. Please use the private family bath or book a room with a private hot spring bath.
Also, there is a cozy library salon. You can relax while having complimentary herb tea, green tea, and water, etc.
Then, there is a spa treatment salon on the grounds called Kadan Spa. You need to make an appointment in advance.
How about meals?
As noted above, the food presentation was good, but the taste was mediocre. They have a nice list of sake, wine, and champagne to complement the meal. Then you can choose either Western or Japanese cuisine for breakfast. All meals are served in your room or private room.
Breakfast starts at 8:00, 8:30, or 9:00. Dinner starts from 18:00, 18:30, or 19:00.
If you have dinner on the property, you need to check in by 18:00.
Then if you have any food allergies, please write them in a comment box when you book a room with meals. They probably wouldn’t be able to prepare alternative food if you request on that day.
Then, as far as I know, there is no nice restaurant around here. Most of the local papa mama shops are closing early. You may want to book a room with meals unless you have a car.
Most of the staff are professional. They have their own unique commitment to service and hospitality. Please keep in mind that this ryokan is very traditional, so respect Japanese traditions. Finally, your special time here will be a wonderful memory. It is recommended that you arrive as early as possible to explore the grounds.
Have a nice trip! Welcome to receive any questions about Gora Kadan from the below space. You need to inform the staff of your expected arrival time in advance. Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on agoda
Info about Gora Kadan
|Style||Luxury Traditional Ryokan|
|Check-in and out times
|Estimated Price||120,000 JPY for 2 adults per room|
|Internet Connection||Free wifi in the ryokan|
|Facility Information||Wheelchairs are available
Pets are not allowed
The free parking lot is available
|Location||Gora Kadan’s MAP|
|Access||Just 5min walk from Gora station
Free shuttle service is available from the station
|Address and TEL||〒250-0408 Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun,
Hakone-machi, Gōra300 Tel +81 0460-82-3331
|Official Homepage||Gora Kadan’s HP|
*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.
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