As I mentioned in my previous post on the Hakone Travel Guide, we were so blessed to be able to stay at a ryokan in Hakone this time, and my hubby specifically requested a private onsen(onsen: hot spring)! If you’ve been to a public onsen before, you’ll know that you wouldn’t be allowed to wear any clothes to go in the onsen, so it’s definitely not for everyone if you wouldn’t be comfortable with that.
Now, a ryokan with a private onsen isn’t as plentiful as regular ryokans, and some can get booked up years in advance. We picked Yama no Chaya, a beautiful ryokan in the mountains that is close to the Tonosawa hot spring. You could easily book and pay online on your own 3 months prior to your trip, which we did. Ryokans are generally pricey because they basically treat you like royalty for the day, with your own “butler”, and they cover your meals as well, a full course kaiseki dinner and a full breakfast.
How to get to Yamanochaya
- From the Hakone Yumoto station, either take a taxi or take T bus for the kami-Tonosawa stop.
- Based on google maps the Tonosawa train station was the closest but we highly discourage you from taking this route. We did it, and it was a long uphill walk, and we had huge luggage that we were lugging around the narrow streets of Hakone hahaha. I really felt that the cars were gonna hit us at any point! (yes, I was an idiot)
Since we walked, we got to cross this pretty bridge on foot!
Because we didn’t take the taxi, we had to walk up this super steep incline (LOL) with our luggage. Good thing I have been running uphills else I would have collapsed.
Finally we arrive at the ryokan! Check-in time is actually 3PM but we came early just to drop off stuff, and also to make reservation for the other onsens they had in the ryokan.
And honestly, this ryokan was so stunning. The grounds and surrounding area, I absolutely loved it all. I recently started watching this anime called Yowamushi Pedal, which is about cycling. A large portion of the anime is situated in Hakone for the training and competition, and I can just attest to how gorgeous the scenery is - and having walked through all the roads, I can also say how crazy the hills are as well. I'm terrible at cycling, much less uphills, so I really can't imagine.
Both Clement and I wished we could have stayed longer at this beautiful place.
And of course they greeted us with delicious cups of matcha, and went through all the various things we needed to know about the amenities. At this ryokan, there are only a few onsens, so they would switch between men and women depending on the time of day.
When we got back the ryokan around 4:30PM, they brought us to our room which was on the 4th floor. We got the Special Asebi room because I had read reviews online that the view up here was really nice. It was getting dark so we didn’t get a chance to really see much at this time.
Our host, Te, gave us a tour of the ryokan, determined our times for the dinner and the breakfast, then helped us get dressed in yukata’s.
We dipped our feet into these little feet onsens to rest our feet from all day walking!
Before long it was time to eat dinner! It was a really comprehensive multi-course dinner... everything was so delicious. I love how they use whatever is in season, so everything was so fresh and well thought-out. And their presentation was just really beautiful , so beautiful that I almost didn't want to eat it.
After dinner we took a dip into our private onsen which was seriously so amazing. You know the water is great when your hands don’t wrinkle after being in water for like half an hour.
Then around 10PM we went to the outdoor onsen that we were able to book so it’s just the two of us in it, and it was so beautiful and perfect. The showers in the back are super awesome, too! They got all the best shampoos and conditioners to use, and you can even shave and do a foot scrub while you’re at it. LOVE it. Perfect way to relax.
We were pretty tired so we slept quite early, and also cause we wanted to maximize our morning since check-out is at 10AM. Next time we get a chance to stay at a ryokan I think we would opt for 2 nights!
We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise, light shining through the leaves…
Great is thy faithfulness, oh God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with thee...
Just how can you not worship God after looking at nature like this? I really need a place like this for a retreat!
The balcony on the second floor of our room had a stunning view of the mountain. Sat there, prayed, and had tons of beautiful reflections…
Loved these peekaboo wooden windows that let the filtered light in, or you could sneak a peek of the gorgeous mountainside. Even caught Clement reflecting while dipping his feet into the waters.
Then, our butler came in to serve us some delicious breakfast. I just love how it's so abundant yet so healthy and balanced!
Just look at this spread! I was talking to my Japanese friend, and I asked her what she normally eats. And she told me that Japanese like to eat things very balanced, hence the number of plates in meals such as these. A little bit of protein, a little bit of vegetables, fish, etc…. so good!
Seriously, I just love Japanese interior design and the wabisabi concept. Everything is so natural, imperfect but so innately beautiful and zen-like.
And sadly, we had to leave this gorgeous place. Yes, we learned our lesson and took a taxi this time around to the Hakone Yumoto station. Definitely will be back to a ryokan again, one day, God willing!
Hope you enjoyed this little snippet of our adventure in Hakone!