This is a review of our stay at Nishimuraya Honkan.
In the hot and humid season of early July, we took our two small children to visit Kinosaki Onsen, which has been loved by many writers and artists for over 1,300 years and has been the setting for Japanese novels and movies on numerous occasions. We decided to stay at Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsu on the first day and at its sister hotel, Nishimuraya Honkan, on the second day. To get straight to the point, the ryokan, with its beautiful harmony of Japanese garden and sukiya-style wooden architecture, created a special trip that will remain in our hearts forever, as we are lovers of architecture and traditional crafts. There are several luxury onsen hotels in Japan similar to Nishimuraya Hotel Shougetei where we stayed on the first day, but it is very rare to find a ryokan like the Nishimuraya Honkan that has a unique and worldly experience.
We checked out of Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsu before 11:00 a.m., then visited Kinosaki Marin World, and arrived at Nishimuraya Honkan a little after 3:00 p.m. The magnificent gateway looked like a samurai residence. The street in front of the ryokan was crowded with tourists, but once we passed through the gate, which exuded style and dignity, we found ourselves in a truly different world. Unfortunately, it was raining lightly at the time, but the rain-soaked stone pavements and the Japanese garden were indescribably charming. It was a hot and humid day, but the lush green grass and moss were even more vividly green after being soaked by the rain. We were warmly greeted by the staff and entered through the entrance of the beautiful sukiya-style wooden building. Here we removed our shoes and changed into slippers on the polished floor, and the staff ushered us into the lobby overlooking the stunning courtyard. The sweet aroma of sandalwood incense came out of nowhere. It was the aroma of Shoeido, an incense specialty store headquartered in Kyoto.
Looking through the elegant sukiya-style entranceway, the lobby overlooking a magnificent Japanese garden soothed our travel fatigue at once. Through the large cut-out windows, the view was as wonderful as a painting. We were simply moved to see such an outstanding and magnificent Japanese garden in a serene space with incense in the air.
The staff, dressed in kimono, then immediately showed us to a standard room called Hiragi, located on the first floor. This ryokan has a total of 33 rooms, and the buildings are built around the Japanese garden. We wanted to stay in the annex called “Hirata-wing,” built by Masaya Hirata, a master of sukiya-style architecture, but there were no rooms available.
Entering the room from the front door, there was a bathroom on the right, a washroom on the left, and a splendid Japanese-style room with an alcove when the sliding doors in front of the room was opened. There was also a porch called engawa with chairs and a table on the window side, which was separated by shoji doors. The window overlooked a beautiful Japanese garden. We were impressed by the space where we could strongly feel the sense of aesthetics of a master craftsman who also incorporates a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with nature and the seasons. Then just below the room was a pond where beautiful Nishiki-koi were swimming gracefully. The children were so excited that they could open the window and feed the carp directly from the engawa. When the children fed them, many red and yellow Nishiki-koi gathered around. It is a little cramped for a family of four, but we loved it.
After a while, the staff prepared delicious powdered green tea and red bean dumplings for us, and we decided to relax on the porch of our room, looking out over the beautiful Japanese garden. As we listened carefully, we could hear the chirping of bell bugs.
After this we changed into our yukatas and headed for the communal onsen baths. The ryokan has three communal onsen baths. There is “Yoshi-no-yu,” with its luxurious cypress wood bathtubs, walls, and ceiling, and its fragrant wood aroma. “Fukuno-yu” features a circular bathtub and a window with Chinese geometric patterns. “Shouno-yu,” facing the courtyard of the separate the Hirata wing building and offering seasonal views, each with its own unique flavor.
The ryokan has several rooms with wonderful outdoor private baths, but unfortunately they are not hot spring baths. Boiled water is used. If you would like to enjoy onsen but would prefer not to use the communal onsen baths, book a private family onsen bath at the sister ryokan Nishimuraya Hotel Shougetsu. There are three wonderful private family onsen baths overlooking beautiful forests and trees, available for 70 minutes for 8,800 yen for up to four persons. 1,100 yen per person will be added for five or more persons. Mineral water and sparkling wine are provided. It is a 10 minute walk or the staff will drive you to and from the ryokan.
We were thirsty after enjoying the communal onsen baths, so we headed to the lobby lounge where complimentary drinks were available. Orange juice, apple juice, iced coffee, barley tea, water, etc. were available in one corner of the lobby lounge, which was furnished with sophisticated interior design and furniture. Sake was also available in bamboo canisters on the sunken hearth table behind the entrance. It was crisp and dry. We decided to relax in the lobby lounge, where jazz music was playing and we sat in chairs by the window, looking out over the Japanese garden.
In the lobby, there was a store selling souvenirs and local products. There was also a small museum displaying materials on the history of Kinosaki Onsen, as well as calligraphy, ceramics, and folk art donated by artists and celebrities who have patronized Nishimuraya.
We were getting hungry by now, so we went back to our room and the staff prepared dinner for us. Since we were with small children, we were able to dine in the room without any worries. Kinosaki Onsen is located near the sea, and seafood from the Sea of Japan is abundant. The sashimi of the day included sea bream, grouper, and white squid from the fishing port near Kinosaki, as well as ayu and iwana (char) from the Maruyama River that runs through Kinosaki. Also, grilled steamed abalones were served with a sauce of abalone liver and white soybean paste, which enhanced the flavor of the abalones to perfection. The main dish was Tajima beef, which had a perfect balance of lean and fatty meat. The wonderful collaboration of delicious sake, glossy dishes, and cuisine was a gem. Since we visited during the summer season, Matsuba crab, a specialty of Kinosaki Onsen, was not used. Visitors to Kinosaki Onsen for Matsuba Crab should stay between November and March.
Dinner was finished before 8:00 p.m. and the staff laid out futons in our room. After this, we planned to take a stroll around the hot spring resort, but the kids were tired and fell asleep, so we decided to sit in our room on chairs on the porch, sipping sake we bought at the gift shop and admiring the Japanese garden at night. However, there was very little lighting at night, so we were disappointed that we could not see the ethereal Japanese garden from our room. On this day, the moon was also hidden by thick clouds, and the night sky looked like it was going to rain again.
The next morning, we woke up a little after 7:00 a.m. and decided to take a walk in the Japanese Garden. We put on wooden clogs provided from the exit near our room and walked out into the Japanese garden, passing through a pathway of paving stones laid out. We were surrounded by the chirping of birds and the quietness of the morning. Walking on the paving stones with wooden clogs called getas, we heard a pleasant sound. Strolling through the exquisite Japanese garden, as picturesque as a painting, and admiring the beautiful sukiya-style Japanese architecture, we truly experienced the culture and traditions of Japan.
When we returned to our room a little after 8:00 a.m., the staff had cleared away the futon on the tatami mats and prepared breakfast for us. Breakfast was prepared at the exact time we had specified. A wooden box was placed in the center of the table, and when I opened the lid of the two-tiered box, I found six different kinds of small bowls inside. They were cod roe, crab tofu, crab with Japanese pepper, grated baby sardines, sashimi of squid, and soaked komatsuna greens. Also included was a fluffy grilled dried ete flounder, steamed vegetable, boiled tofu called yudofu, and miso soup. Standard Japanese dishes were lined up. For breakfast, you can choose Western or Japanese food.
In 2020, when we stayed, breakfast and dinner were in-room meals, but around 2023, dinner is in-room meal, but breakfast is in a Japanese-style room in a large hall.
After this, we strolled around the hot spring resort area until around 10:30, checked out before 11:00, and headed to our next destination. We now have one more beautiful ryokan that lingers in our minds even after we check out. Next time, we would like to visit in spring or fall. Check Availability and Pricing for the onsen ryokan on Agoda
Is the location easy to access?
Please take a direct express train or highway bus from Osaka Station or Kyoto Station to Kinosaki Onsen Station. The travel time is 2.5 hours for express train and 3.5 hours for highway bus.
From Kinosaki Onsen Station, a free shuttle service operated by the Kinosaki Onsen Tourist Center provides transportation to and from each ryokan. The shuttle service departs between 12:30 and 18:00 according to the express trains arriving at Kinosaki Onsen Station.
Those who wish to use this shuttle service need to inform the ryokan in advance of the arrival time at Kinosaki Onsen Station. When boarding a shuttle bus, please tell a driver the name of the ryokan where you will be staying and your name. It is about a 15-minute walk from Kinosaki Onsen Station to the ryokan.
If you wish to leave your luggage at the Kinosaki Onsen Tourist Center in front of the station, tell staff the name of the ryokan you are staying at and your name, and leave your luggage there for JPY200 per piece. The ryokan staff will carry your luggage for you.
How about In-house Facilities?
There are three wonderful communal indoor and outdoor onsen baths. They are open from 5:30-10:30, 15:00-24:30. Then you can use communal onsen baths in the sister inn, Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsu. Staff can send you to the hotel, or you can go on foot, 15min walk. Also, the sister inn has 3 private family onsen baths. They are amazing. You need to book in advance if you want to use them. They cost 8,800JPY for 70min. Complimentary sparkling wine, bottled water, and toiletries, etc. are available.
Then this ryokan is not a universal design but I saw a wheelchair user in the lobby during my stay. There was no lift. If you bring people with weak legs, you may want to inform the staff in advance as they can arrange rooms on 1F. *There was no elevator in 2020 when we stayed, but it appears that an elevator has since been built.
Check Availability and Pricing for the onsen ryokan on Agoda
Info about Nishimuraya Honkan
|Traditional Onsen Ryokan
|Check-in and out times
|100,000 JPY for 2 adults per room
|Fill the form in
|Wifi reception was good
|Wheelchairs are available
Pets are not allowed
The free parking lot is available
|Nishimuraya Honkan’s MAP
|Free shuttle service from Kinosaki Onsen Station
|Address and TEL
|469 Yushima, Kinosaki-Cho Toyooka City
Hyogo 669-6101 Tel +81-796-32-2211
|Nishimuraya Honkan’s HP
*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.
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