Matsuzakaya Honten

Matsuzakaya Honten

What kind of onsen ryokan is Matsuzakaya Honten?

In early June, on a hot and humid day in the rainy season, I met up with friends at Tokyo Station and took the Shinkansen bullet train to Odawara Station, where we transferred to Hakone Tozan Railway to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Then, we took Hakone Tozan Bus and got off at Azuma ashinoyu Bus Stop. About a five-minute walk from the bus stop was Matsuzakaya Honten, where we would be staying for the night.

The onsen ryokan is over 360 years old, but was extensively renovated in 2017, so the old architectural style was well utilized while modern facilities were installed. Upon entering through the front door, one finds wooden carvings with calligraphy characters hanging on the pure white walls, fine tatami mats on the floor, and an elaborate bamboo mesh weave on the ceiling. Once inside, where we took off our shoes and climbed up, we found ourselves in the lobby of a Western-style building that had been in use for more than 100 years. The furniture and interior decorations used since the Meiji era must have been maintained and renovated as much as possible. I went through check-in procedures in the lounge with a beautiful chandelier on the ceiling.

For the welcome drink, you can choose between sakura tea and monaka, or coffee and biscotti, and we chose the latter. Free coffee, tea, apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, cold hoji tea, beer, shochu, wine and Japanese sake were available next to the lounge between 7:30 and 22:00. Complimentary drinks are not allowed to be brought into your room. After checking in, we quickly moved to the sun room next to the lounge where we were served Sapporo beer. The beer was great with a view of the beautiful green garden. Since this ryokan is very popular, we did not see any other guests in the lobby even though the rooms were fully booked that day.

After a while, a staff member escorted us to our room on 1F. This time we stayed in a room called “Tokiwa” on the first floor of the SHUNPUSO building, which is the relocated Iwasaki villa of the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu. We used this room for 4 adults and it was just the right size. Upon entering the room, we found a large Japanese-style rooms with a kotatsu and Japanese style mattresses called futons in the next room. When we opened the shoji paper sliding door, we found a spacious veranda called engawa surrounding the two Japanese-style rooms, with a sofa and a table. From the engawa, we could see the well-kept garden with beautiful fresh greenery. Also, in the bathroom, there was an indoor private hot spring bath. The bathtub was made of stone, a bit narrow in width, but had a large window that could be opened. We sat under a kotatsu for a while, sipping Uji green tea and enjoying the ambience of the historic room. it was early June, but the room was equipped with a kotatsu because it was cold in the morning and evening.

We warmed ourselves with kotatsu for a while and decided to change into yukatas and go to the communal hot spring baths. The hallways and cobblestone pavement we passed on the way to the large baths, the hearth room with its magnificent beamed ceiling with old toys, the tunnel that was still used in the past, and the old telephone booth and furniture made us feel as if we had stepped back in time. We sat at the hearth for a while, eating small Japanese snacks available free of charge and playing with kendama, beanbags, and paper balloons.

Then we entered the nostalgic ambience of the communal hot spring baths, where we could smell the strong scent of sulfur. The hot spring water was very soft and pleasant. Not many hot springs have so many hot spring flowers floating in them. The hot spring has been in use for more than 360 years, so I was deeply moved by the thought of the great people I read about in history books who visited Hakone and enjoyed this hot spring.

After soaking in the communal hot spring baths, we were thirsty and went to the lounge again and had beer in the sun room. Beer after a bath is the best beer. We also dropped by the private family hot spring baths. We picked up the key at the front desk, went out from the exit in front of the communal bath area, and walked for about 2 minutes along the fresh green beautiful pathway, and then we saw a black hut divided into 5 rooms. We used the private family hot spring called Heizo Room. There was a sofa in the changing room and a wooden bathtub just outside. The ourdoor hot spring bath was so spacious and liberating, and the view of the forest trees was soothing. There are five private family hot spring baths. They all have a similar setting. You can use them as many times as you like, free of charge, as long as they are available. You need to go to the reception to get the key each time, which may be a little troublesome. The buildings on the grounds are complex, so it takes some time to get around, but the private family baths are worth a try.

When we returned to our room, it was almost 6:00 p.m., the time for dinner, so we went to the dining room and the staff showed us to a private room. Dinner was kaiseki cuisine. All the dishes were delicious, but there was no dish that left a lasting impression on me. The dishes at the sister resort called Kinnotake Tonosawa, were more refined. During the meal, some sake, wine, and shochu, similar to those in the lounge, were available free of charge. The quantity of food was average, but we could not finish it, probably because we had too many drinks in the lounge before dinner.

After dinner, it was already dark outside. We decided to take a walk on the grounds, as the long history of the buildings are different at night than it is during the day. The old corridors and tunnels that we had passed through during the day were illuminated by the soft glow of lanterns on the white walls, creating a space that reminded us of those days even more vividly. We then returned to our room. It was a hot and humid rainy season in Tokyo, but the elevation of the area around the ryokan was high, so my feet started to get cold, so I warmed up in the private hot spring bath before going to bed.

Just before 7:00 the next morning, we were awakened by the sound of the footsteps of a guest staying on the second floor. I looked outside and unfortunately, it was raining cold. We made coffee, got into the kotatsu, opened the shoji screen, and sat for a while listening to the sound of the rain and looking at the fresh green trees soaking in the rain. The beautiful new greenery was emitting an even brighter green. Later, before breakfast, we went to the private family hot spirng baths and communal baths. I felt that there were not many guests using the private family and communal baths, perhaps because most of the guest rooms have private hot spring baths. Since there are only 22 rooms in total, it does not seem to be crowded.

After breakfast, the rain had stopped, so we decided to take a walk around the ryokan. The well-maintained walking paths make it easy to walk even after the rain. After the blue curtain at the entrance, turn left and at the end of the path you will see a red torii gate. On the left is a pond, and the entrance to the wooden path comes into view. As I walked through the forest, listening to the sound of bamboo leaves on both sides of the path swaying in the breeze, I could hear birds chirping. Perhaps a map of the walking trails will be available at the reception desk. It takes about 20 minutes. After returning from the walk, we spent another relaxing time in the sun room in the lounge with wine, checked out before 11:00, and took the bus back home.

If I dare to raise a fault, the room we stayed in is a traditional old wooden building, so we could hear voices in the hallway and footsteps going up the stairs to the second floor. I personally didn’t mind the noise too much, as the view of the garden from my room was wonderful. Also, there are many steps on the grounds. This ryokan is not suitable for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Which is a shame because my grandmother who uses a wheelchair loves the ambiance.

Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on agoda

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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. From the east exit of Odawara Station, take Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Hakonemachi-ko and get off at Azuma ashinoyu Bus Stop. The trip takes 39 minutes. From the bus stop to the ryokan is a 5-minute walk.

Alternatively, take Odakyu Romancecar from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. From there, take Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Hakonemachi-ko and get off at Azuma ashinoyu Bus Stop. It takes around 24min.

If you are visiting Hakone for the first time, you may want to show the driver the Japanese text below when you get on the bus. That way, in case you fall asleep, the driver will let you know when you arrive at the bus stop where you will get off.

Kindly let me know when you reach “Azuma ashinoyu Bus Stop”

If you are still unsure about the above access information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the space below.

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 flowers and cakes to celebrate an anniversary at additional charges if you request in advance.

Rooms I would recommend?

There are six buildings with different tastes and a total of 22 rooms on a large site of 130,000 square meters. If you are going to stay here, I would recommend a rooms with a private hot spring bath. Then if you don’t want to sleep on Japanese-style mattresses called futons in tatami rooms, you may want to book a room with twin beds on tatami mats.

How about toiletries & in-room amenities?

All of the amenities are taken care of including enough toiletries, a Nespresso machine with many capsules, a tea machine, yukatas, and samue outfits, etc. Also, a humidifier and a wooden speaker were placed in our room.  The free WiFi reception was good in our room.  Room service is not available.  Then complimentary beer, wine, Japanese sake, whiskey, lotus tea, jasmine tea, English tea, hot chocolate, 100% fresh juice, popcorn, snacks, and sweets, etc., are available at the lounge. Then there is no convenience store nearby.  You might want to buy your necessities before coming here.

How about In-house Facilities?

There are large indoor communal hot spring baths. They are open from 5:00-9:30, 14:00-25:00.  Also, there are 5 outdoor private family hot springs that you can use for free whenever they are not occupied. All of them are open from 7:00-9:45, 15:00-23:45. The spring quality is awesome like skin location, creamy, thick, and soft.  The water temperature tends to be high. *Please note that if you have tattoos, use the private family hot spirng baths instead.

Then this is not a universal design. There are many steps and there is no lift in-house. If you bring people with weak legs, you may want to find others.
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How about meals?

The food experience was good, but wouldn’t be special. The portion tends to be average. All meals are served in a private room in a dining area. Dinner starts at 18:00 or 19:30.  Breakfast starts at 8:00, 8:30, or 9:00. *Please note that inform the staff when you book a room with meals if you have any food allergies or dietary needs. They probably wouldn’t be able to prepare alternative food if you request it on that day.  Also, if you have dinner here, you need to check in by 19:00.

Then, as far as I know, there are no restaurants, convenience stores, or cafes in this area. You may want to book a room including meals. 

My impressions

All staff is helpful, friendly, and attentive. Next time, I would like to enjoy Japanese sake while viewing the snowy landscape from the sunroom in the lounge.

Have a nice trip!  Welcome to receive any questions about Matsuzakaya Honten from the below space. If you check-in after 19:00, you need to inform the staff in advance.  *Due to the coronavirus, the property is temporarily closed until the 31st of May, 2020. Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on agoda

Info about Matsuzakaya Honten

Style Traditional Onsen Ryokan
Check-in and out times
Estimated Price 60,000 JPY for 2 adults per room
Contact E-mail
Internet Connection Free wifi in the ryokan
Facility Information Wheelchairs are not available
Pets are not allowed
The free parking lot is available
Location Matsuzakaya Honten’s MAP
Access 30min from Hakone-Yumoto Station by bus
Address and TEL 57 Ashinoyu, Hakone-machi,
Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 250-0523
Tel +81 460-83-6511
Official Homepage Matsuzakaya Honten’s HP

*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.

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