Tucked away in the rural Agatsuma District of the Gunma Prefecture in Japan is Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, a modern ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) offering a quiet retreat roughly three hours away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The hotel’s owner, Masuo Kashiwabara, recommends his quaint onsen “for people who have visited Japan several times and want to visit a different place than others.” The 15-guestroom ryokan is located at the entrance to the Shima Onsen (hot spring) along the Shima River on the grounds of Joshin’etsu Kogen National Park. All guestrooms—Small, Standard, Large, Japanese Twin, Kame with in-room onsen bath, and Hana with in-room onsen bath—feature tatami (straw mat) floors and a futon bed(s), whereas only the larger 259-sq.-ft. Standard, Large, Japanese Twin, Kame and Hana rooms feature open-air baths and terraces overlooking the river.
There’s a total of three traditional open-air onsens on the property that are free and available to guests at any time of the day—Tsuki (moon), a hot spring that can be enjoyed at night under the moonlight; Sakura (cherry blossoms), a hot spring positioned under cherry blossom trees that bloom in spring; and Kaede (maple), a hot spring with views of maple trees. On the first floor of the hotel is a large, public Japanese-style bath with wall-to-wall windows that look out onto the property’s natural surroundings. Remind your clients that when visiting an onsen they need to go in the nude, take a shower before getting into the bath, do not swim in the water, do not bathe with soap in the water and be mindful of others when washing. In addition to its hot springs, the hotel also features a library, bike rentals and a cafe where tea, coffee, Japanese breakfast, Continental breakfast and Japanese-style cuisine are served. Rates start at $102 per night. For more information, visit kashiwaya.org/e.