Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan

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 the Odakyu Romance Car from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station, which took about 90 minutes, and transferred to the Hakone Tozan Railway, arriving at Gora Station in 35 minutes. Upon arrival at Gora Station, I called the ryokan and requested a pick-up service, and after a five-minute wait, a staff member arrived to pick me up. We took the shuttle and arrived at the inn in about 2 minutes. The walk from the station to the inn 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. It was truly an authentic experience of the quality and tradition of quaint Japanese architecture. 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.

Then, down the stairs in the lobby, there were souvenirs on the right and the famous 120-meter long cloister in front of us. We werre 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 platform. There was still time before check-in, so we decided to take a swim in the heated pool on the first floor. The bright cobalt blue of the swimming pool and the Japanese garden behind it are in beautiful harmony. There was also a Jacuzzi outside. We enjoyed the Jacuzzi while looking at the Japanese garden. The roof of the 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 kinako mochi (soybean flour cake) and tea here.

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 cake and green tea here.

Then, a male staff member in a hakama showed us to the room where we would be staying for the night. Hakama outfits are very appropriate for such a wonderful Japanese architecture as Hakone Hanadan. This time, we booked a Japanese-style room with a private outdoor 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 outdoor hot spring bath, and my wish finally came true. Since this 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 a garden and an outdoor bath at the back. The room was very spacious and we loved the relaxed ambience. Everything here, from the furnishings and ikebana to the furniture and décor to the Japanese garden, was top-notch. This place was like a condensed version of traditional Japanese culture. This place was like a condensed version of traditional Japanese culture.

Then the most impressive thing to me was the amazingly wonderful authentic Japanese garden viewed from a wooden 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.

I immediately changed into a yukata and 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 an outdoor hot spring bath. 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 is small, but the tasteful stone pavement, white walls, and beams on the ceiling were impressive. Once inside, there was a sophisticated indoor bath and an outdoor bath made to look 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, but 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 the library salon right in front of us. It was like a sophisticated lounge with massage machines, deck chairs, magazines, and complimentary matcha and ginger tea to make us feel at home. We sat at a table overlooking the magnificent weeping cherry blossoms and enjoyed the tea and a wonderful view.

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 the 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 the 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 are 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 veranda 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 was the bedrock sauna room and next to it was 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 priority is given to those staying in rooms without baths.

If I were to venture a fault, it would be the food. It may be authentic kaiseki cuisine, though. The architecture, Japanese garden, decor, and ornaments are top-notch and worth seeing. If you are interested in Japanese culture and architecture, as I am, you may be excited during your stay, but if you are a gourmet, you may not be satisfied.

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Is the location easy to access?

Yes, the location is near Gora Station.  It takes 5min on foot.  A free shuttle service is available.  You need to call at 0460-82-3331 when you arrive at the station.  *Due to the effects of Typhoon 19, the Hakone Tozan Line between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora Station is under a long-term suspension.  During this period of suspension, bus transfers and Rail Replacement bus services will be operating between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora stations.  It will be restored in late July 2020Refer to the infoThe Hakone Tozan Line has restarted since the 23rd of July, 2020.

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 rooms with outdoor private hot springs.  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.

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 & 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 is no coffee machine. 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 a 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 salon 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.

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. *Please note that inform the staff when you book a room with meals if you have any food allergies.

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.

My impressions

Most of the staff is professional, but try to respect Japanese traditions as this is a very traditional ryokan.  The staff tends to be particular about Gora Kadan. You will experience pure Japanese top class. It must be a memorable property. Finally, the best time to stay here would be spring and fall.

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 Booking.com or Agoda

Info about Gora Kadan

Style Luxury Traditional Ryokan
Check-in and out times
Estimated Price 120,000 JPY for 2 adults per room
Contact E-mail
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.