【Yugawara Onsen Kaiseki Ryoan Ashikari】

~Feel the warmth of the wood at the ryokan, and be healed by the hospitality and the soft hot spring water that has continued since the time of Manyo~

On the border between Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures, along the Chitose River, which empties into Sagami Bay with clear underground water from the Hakone Mountains, lies Yugawara, a hot spring resort with a history of more than 1,500 years.

Kaiseki Ryoan Ashikari, located on a hillside overlooking Yugawara Onsen, is a "travel hermitage" that heals visitors with its wooden sukiya-style architecture based on the best of old Japan while making abundant use of the borrowed landscape of 2,700 tsubo.

This time, we asked manager Hiromasa Okuma about the history and charm of Yugawara Onsen and " Kaiseki Ryoan Ashikari," in detail.

Table of Contents

●Yugawara Onsen & Kaiseki Ryoan Ashikari

-First of all, may I ask you about the characteristics of Yugawara Onsen?

As stated in our inn's concept book, "At Yugawara, a hot spring that has been healing people for over 1,500 years since the distant era of Manyo," Yugawara is a hot spring with a rich history.

You are probably familiar with the Manyoshu (Anthology of Myriad Leaves), Japan's oldest extant collection of poetry compiled from the late 7th to the late 8th century, in one of which Yugawara Onsen appears.

[Ashigari no Toi no kauchi ni izuru yu no yo ni motayorani korogai wa nakuni.]

The poem is said to be about hot water and love, and this "Ashigara-no-Dohi" refers to Yugawara. There are various theories as to the origin of Yugawara Onsen, but by the time the poem was composed about 1,250 years ago, there were already hot springs in the valley of Yugawara, and they were well known to people.

Yugawara is a hot spring resort that flourished along the Chitose River, but the sites along the river are narrow, so the inns are generally small. This creates the atmosphere of a secluded hot-spring resort, and the old Japanese hot-spring resort atmosphere remains firmly intact.

Although often overshadowed by the two major hot spring resorts of Hakone and Atami, Yugawara is only three stations away from Odawara, a Shinkansen station, and one station away from Atami, making it easily accessible from the Tokyo metropolitan area. Blessed with a mild climate and a variety of delicacies from the mountains and the sea, Yugawara has long been visited by many spa healers.

Many writers and artists since the Meiji period, such as Soseki Natsume, Akiko Yosano, and Ryunosuke Akutagawa, loved this quiet hot spring resort in the mountains and used it as a stage for their creative activities and work.

- Ashikari is also a ryokan with a long history, right?

The name "Ashikari" comes from an old place name in this area. Ashikari" is a slightly broader name for "Ashigara" mentioned in the Manyoshu, the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry.

The exterior of the inn, including the main entrance, is designed in the ‘sukiya style’, incorporating the techniques and design of tea ceremony room architecture. The current inn has been renovated, leaving the structure as it is, and is a stylish fusion of the ‘sukiya style’ architecture with the taste and decor of a traditional Japanese inn. One of the characteristics of Ashikari is the meticulousness and quality of Japanese architecture designed into the space, which is why we use the word "ryoan" instead of "ryokan.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of modern and building-type ryokan with design elements, but we believe that our ryoan will be a perfect fit for those who want to "touch the Japanese" while still being functional. Our ryoan is especially popular with guests from overseas.

The ryoan is surrounded by a wooded area of over 2,700 tsubo, and the sound of birds can always be heard. In order to maximize the sound and light of nature, the window openings were made with glass sashes as wide as possible. We made special efforts to eliminate the boundary between the interior and exterior spaces and to bring the house as close to nature as possible.

●17 guest rooms, each with a different look and feel

-Can you tell us more about the guest rooms?

There are 17 rooms in the hotel, and all rooms are equipped with an open-air bath with free-flowing ‘Yugawara Jurayu’ hot-spring water.

Originally, there were 19 rooms in total, but as we gradually renovated them into rooms with open-air baths, we created two suites of 100 square meters by combining two rooms. They are the largest rooms in Ashikari, called "Katsuragi" and "Sagamiji.

The main feature of the rooms at Ashikari is that each room has its own unique design, expression, and space.

The guest rooms, which utilize the qualities of the original wooden architecture, have high ceilings and exposed beams, and offer a strong sense of Japanese rustic and natural sensibilities. Exposed large beams in the high ceilings and tall glass windows give the rooms a spacious, bright, and open feeling. The structure of each guest room is different, and each room has its own unique look and feel.

The inside of the inn is U-shaped, and the baths in the guest rooms are all located on the outside, so each room has a different view of the scenery. The rooms are built to take advantage of the difference in elevation of the hills in Yugawara, so each room has a different view from the window, and the views from the 2,700 tsubo garden and the changing nature of the four seasons make it a pleasure to see a different view each time you come to the ryoan.

Depending on the season of Someiyoshino, you can view cherry blossoms in your room. There is a large cherry tree in front of the Sakurabana and Hagi rooms, and the Katsuragi and Sagamiji rooms are located on the floor above them. The view when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in front of the large glass windows from top to bottom is magnificent.

Some rooms offer a borrowed view of the garden, while others offer a distant view of the city of Yugawara or the outer rim of Hakone. The view from each room is sure to relax you naturally.

We often receive requests from repeat guests to change the room next time, and we sometimes recommend a room with a different atmosphere from the previous one.

(The names of the guest rooms, such as Kujyu, Tomarise, Juroyoru, Jyugoromo, and Sagamiji, are all words from poems in the Manyoshu anthology.)

-Ashikari is registered as a Welcome Baby Inn, isn't it?

We have been certified as a "Welcome Baby Inn" by the MIKIHOUSE Child-Rearing Research Institute as an inn where people with babies and children can stay with peace of mind. There are quite detailed standards for certification, but we were able to clear them and provide specifications that are safe for babies. All guest rooms are equipped with an open-air bath so that babies can bathe safely, and we offer a wide range of services and equipment for children so that guests with children can stay at the inn safely and comfortably.

There are many things you will need when traveling with your child and preparing for a trip can be a challenge. We encourage you to come as light as possible and to ensure that the museum has everything you need, we provide baby chairs, kids' chairs, diaper garbage cans, children's tableware, and baby formula pots.

However, we do have guests who prefer to spend their time quietly, so we give careful consideration to assigning rooms and dining areas.

Ashikari has three separate dining areas, and if you include the lobby, there are four places to dine. The lobby can be used as three dining spaces with shutter-like pleats, so there is no shortage of dining locations. Some guests say that families with babies can comfortably dine together even when the baby gets fussy, so we do our best to prepare for this by, for example, daring to show guests with babies to the same dining space when there are multiple guests with babies.

For rooms located near the kitchen, we offer in-room dining to ensure a quiet and peaceful experience for guests who prefer to enjoy their meals in privacy. We make this suggestion with consideration and strive to ensure that everyone has a comfortable and enjoyable stay to the best of our abilities.

From the dining area's window, you can admire the illuminated trees in the garden during dinner time and the shimmering mountains bathed in the morning sun during breakfast. Depending on the time and scene, you can enjoy not only the cuisine but also the cozy dining atmosphere.

Nijūshi Sekki’ kaiseki cuisine and a hot spring bath with a borrowed view

-Is kaiseki cuisine a feature of the Kaiseki Ryoan, as the name implies?

We offer a cuisine called "Nijūshi Sekki Kaiseki" which incorporates carefully selected seasonal ingredients from all over the country, focusing on fresh seafood from local Manazuru Port, Fukura Port, and Sagami Bay, as well as the bountiful produce nurtured by the land and air of Ashigara and Mishima. It showcases the flavors of each season, using ingredients that reflect the twenty-four solar terms.

Each dish is detailed and gorgeous, expressing the changing of the seasons through cuisine. Kaiseki cuisine is visually pleasing as well, with the selection of tableware lacquerware that harmonizes with the colors of the dishes.

We can also accommodate special celebratory occasions and other food restrictions due to various allergies or religious reasons. Upon advance request, we can prepare dishes for children and other celebrations such as weaning ceremonies, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, anniversaries of joyous life and rice, graduations, and retirements, as well as dishes such as sekihan (red rice) to add color to memories.

-I understood that the large hot springs just finished being renovated in March 2023?

These are the two large hot springs in the inn, "Takamine" and "Kusamakura. Before the renovation, they were indoor baths, but they have been renovated into open-air baths with fully retractable glass walls so that guests can directly feel nature on their skin.

Takamine-no-yu offers soft mineral hot spring water in a quiet and tranquil space made of Sabi granite, with a moss garden and a garden of miscellaneous trees at your feet and a great view of the Hakone Outer Rim Mountains.

On the other hand, Kusamakura-no-yu features a tsuboniwa garden with deciduous trees, a view of the mountains of Yugawara and the sky above, granite creating a peaceful space, and a porcelain deck to enjoy the baths in between. We hope you will enjoy a moment of relaxing in Yugawara's hot spring water while looking out over the tsuboniwa garden with its borrowed scenery.

Yugawara Onsen is a soft, simple alkaline spring. It is gentle on the skin and the soul and has a variety of beneficial effects such as neuralgia. It has long been called a "hot spring for wounds" because it is effective for external wounds and burns and was designated as a sanatorium for wounded soldiers in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars during the Meiji period. It is also known as "Yakushi-no-yu," or "hot water for medicine," and is said to be effective against all illnesses.

Yugawara Onsen is famous for its abundant hot spring water. We hope that you will relax your body and soul while soaking in the plentiful hot water and enjoying the luxurious view of the borrowed scenery.

●Kaiseki Ryoan Ashikari  Official Information

Name of hotel:Kaiseki Ryoan Ashikari

Address:734 Miyakami, Yugawaracho, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa prefecture, 259-0314, Japan

TEL:0465-62-4151  FAX:0465-63-4811 E-mail:[email protected]


【by Car】

Tomei Expressway > Atsugi I.C > Odawara-Atsugi road > Seisho Road > Manazuru Road > Yugawara

【by Train】

- From Tokyo/Osaka/Nagoya -

Take the Tokaido Shinkansen > Atami Station > Tokaido Railway >Get off at Yugawara Station

- From  Shinjuku Station -

Odakyu Romance Car > Odawara Station > Tokaido Railway >Get off at Yugawara Station

Pick-up service available from Yugawara Station (7 min. by car, Prior reservation required.)

■The person we spoke to this time

Mr. Hiromasa Okuma (Manager)