We have yet to visit Japan but we still find ourselves constantly wondering, “What to do in Japan?” or “Where to stay in Japan?”. Our good friend Sarah recently had the opportunity to stay at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan and she wrote an amazing review for us to share with you. Hope you enjoy, and as always, remember to comment and share. God Bless!
Sarah is the person behind the travel and lifestyle blog “Fernwehsarah – a guide to travel the world“. She calls herself a “Travel-a-holic” and aims to inspire others to travel more often. On her blog and her Instagram account she shares travel inspirations as well as destination guides and travel hacks in both German and English. The young, Berlin City Girl, loves traveling to unspoiled beaches, eating regional food and connecting with the locals. So far Sarah has been to over 50 countries and does not plan to stop soon. You can follow her journeys and the search for the experience of a lifetime on various social media channels!
Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan – How to Stay Like a Local in Japan.
When I was in Japan this time I decided that it was finally time to stay at a real Japanese Ryokan!
So, after some research, I decided in favor of the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan. Takaragawa Onsen is part of the Minakami Onsen region in Gunma preference – and it’s often rated as being one of the best Onsen in whole Japan! And the Osenkaku Ryokan is the only Ryokan at Takaragawa Onsen!
Since I wanted you to be able to share the experience, I wrote this review and took a vlog about my stay there! If you are not keen on videos – just move on!
So what’s a Japanese Ryokan?
Essentially, a Ryokan is a traditional guesthouse with Japanese rooms (I’ll explain what that means later) that usually serves dinner and breakfast as well. The rate you pay is usually per person, not per room, as the food is included.
So even if a Ryokan might looks expensive in the beginning, it can actually be a very fair price. Think of how much a really good Japanese dinner can cost!
Some Ryokans come with an Onsen, a naturally heated spa pool. If it’s an outdoor Onsen, it is also called Rotemburo. Usually nowadays, Onsen are gender-separated – but some are also mixed gender (konjaku), essentially making them more attractive to western visitors. 😉
What makes Takaragawa Onsen and the Ryokan Osenkaku special?
I did a fair amount of research before deciding on which Ryokan to stay in because it can be complicated for foreigners sometimes.
Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is used to western visitors though and has an English website as well as English speaking staff members. They are listed on Booking.com and Agoda and they have an Onsen.
Wait, not any Onsen. Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku actually has four Rotemburos and two inside Onsen. And one of their outside Onsen is the biggest rotemburo in whole Japan!
Aaaand they are mixed-gender – so I didn’t have to leave Markus behind! Triple win! If you are a shy female, there is also one female-only onsen, don’t worry!
Getting to Takaragawa Onsen and the Ryokan Osenkaku
and checking in!
Another thing that I loved about Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku was that they offer free shuttle busses from both the closest local train station in Minakami as well as the Shinkansen station (Jomo Kogen). That essentially savies you around 10€ per person per way in bus fares. Plus, it is super convient!
So when we arrived at the Shinkansen Jomo-Kogen station, it was super easy to find them near the east exit and we boarded the bus quickly. After around 50min we arrived at the Osenkaku Ryokan and were immediately greeted with Japanese hospitality.
We could even choose our Yukata for rent from many designs! Afterwards, the staff quickly showed us to our beautiful corner room in the older main building of Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku (super beautiful! Opt for this one!)
The room at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku!
If you have never stayed at a Japanese room, there is one thing that might surprise you in the beginning: there is no bed!
The whole room is covered with Tatami mats (in fact, room size is not measured in square meter but in the number of Tatami mats!) and you usually sit on the floor with a cushion! That’s also why every table looks like a coffee table in height!
And when it’s bedtime, there are futon mattresses somewhere in a big wall closet – those mattresses are put on the Tatami mats and make your bed! It might be unusual if you sleep on them the first time – but to me it was surprisingly comfortable!
If you worry about misbehaving (or worried because you have a tattoo – I’ve got you covered!
We chose to book the slightly more expensive corner room of Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku and I can definitely recommend doing that! Not only is your room really big (15 Tatami mats instead of 6 or 8) – it also has a splendid view on the river!
The Food at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku.
As mentioned, your room rate normally includes both dinner and breakfast and this is also true for the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku!
Our dinner actually consisted of seven courses and was super tasty! If you never had a Japanese dinner before, you will be surprised by the variety! And if you have, you know what I am talking about! Even a small bottle of wine or sake was included!
The breakfast at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is buffet style and includes both Western as well as traditional Asian breakfast elements. Compared to the dinner, it was less fancy but still very tasty!
The Takaragawa Onsen itself.
What can I say? It was amazing! The Takaragawa Onsen in Minakami region are among the most beautiful spa pools I have ever seen! And I have seen a few of them already!
They are surrounded by lush green vegetation (or pink, if you come early enough for cherry blossom!) and separated by a river flowing along the whole area.
Everything is designed with meticulous love to details and the whole experience is soooo relaxing! Watch my vlog on “Ryokanikette” to avoid common mistakes (think about the tattoo issue in Japan) – both at the Ryokan as well as the Onsen.
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