And the place looked like it was from the 1800s. The building might not have been that old, but it looked like it at least survived World War II. Let me say straight off that we had a good time. Having said that, I had mixed feelings about it. I really enjoy modern comforts, but I hate a lot of the more “modernized” Japanese inns with fake bamboo fences, tons of plastic, and ugly wall paper. This place was authentic — real bamboo fences, old wooden tubs, and a building structure from the early 1900s. My issue was that everything looked just that old. So-called modern amenities like modern plumbing, toilets and sinks looked like they were installed in the 50s or 60s.
The service was both good and bad in that it was non-existent. Clearly, this isn’t the type of place that waits on you hand and foot. We had to yell for someone to greet us when we arrived. They showed us to our room, had me fill out a guest form and then didn’t come back til they were ready to serve dinner. Dinner was actually a really nice spread (nothing fancy, but good), but they brought everything at once, and told us to call when we were done. Same thing with breakfast. The staff were obviously just hired hands. This was good in that they left us alone, but it was a chore to ask for anything. While a token tip ($20-40) is customary for most reasonably good inns, I didn’t tip here because it didn’t seem like it was expected of me.
The thing that really makes it worth staying there is the baths. They have a hot spring source on their vast grounds, and it’s the genuine thing. Really dense stuff. The water was milky colored and we smelled like sulfur afterward (this is a good thing). Their pamphlet said that the water comes out really really hot, so they have to mix it with water to make it tolerable to bathe in. And the water is running 24/7. Eight of their ten rooms, including ours, come with smaller private baths, and even those are running water all day. The one outdoor bath is really nothing to write home about (small, private bath that people can reserve) but the indoor baths are satisfying enough. The floors are made of wood and have old fashioned drains.
We were a little too early for the leaves to have turned red, but this place would be definately worthwhile in the spring during cherry blossom season or in the autumn when the leaves are at their brightest. Their grounds are immense and it’s all wooded. Their Web site says the cost is as much as 30,000 yen a person. We paid 18,000 yen per person including dinner and breakfast on a weekend. I wouldn’t pay much more than that. For a little more than 20,000 yen, you could go to a different place with nicer service.