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Hakone Kinnotake Tonosawa: One of the Top Ryokan in Japan!

Hakone Kinnotake Tonosawa: One of the Top Ryokan in Japan!

Last updated: 15 January 2024

Hakone stands out as a cherished getaway, showcasing the essence of Japan's natural beauty, ambiance, cultural richness, and culinary delights. Its fame, especially for the hot spring resorts, resonates with both locals and visitors, attributed to its convenient proximity to the urban core. A standout place to stay in Hakone is Kinnotake Tonosawa, nestled in the Tonosawa region close to Hakone-Yumoto Station. This tranquil inn offers a serene haven for those in search of a tranquil escape.

In this piece, two experienced guides relay their personal reflections and insights from their stay at this hotel. The contributors are Chia-chi, a team member of Live Japan from Taiwan, who cherishes serene getaways from everyday hustle, and Miyu Shimada, a native of Japan, committed to exploring the globe throughout her life.

Rest and Relaxation at Kinnotake Tonosawa, a Luxurious Hakone Inn

Kinnotake Tonosawa opened as a sister branch of the group’s Kinnotake Sengokuhara in the Hakone Sengokuhara Onsen area. Inspired by the tale of Princess Kaguya in “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” it marked its milestone 10th anniversary in July 2023.

Situated in the Tonosawa area, Kinnotake Tonosawa is about 10 minutes away by car from Hakone-Yumoto Station, a hub for railways and buses, and just two stops away from Tonosawa Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway.

The inn blends into the vast forest of Tonosawa, boasting an exterior, interior, and ambiance that prioritizes harmony with nature and the artful curation of space. On top of that, all 23 rooms, available in eight different types, have their own open-air baths. Recognizing its nature-centric design, top-notch service, and eco-conscious approach, the inn also earned a spot in the 2023 Kanagawa Edition of the Japan Brand Collection.

The Japan Brand Collection, established in 2005, follows strict selection standards curated by experts spanning diverse industries. Its primary aim is to introduce “Japan’s top establishments across various sectors, focusing on regional development” through its magazine and online portal.

The renovation of the thermal pool, training gym/sauna, and the club floor rooms offering specialized hospitality and services, is slated for completion in 2024, enhancing the overall value for extended stays while catering to the needs of international visitors to Japan.

Generous Hospitality the Moment you Arrive! Welcome Services & Check-In

Generous Hospitality the Moment you Arrive! Welcome Services & Check-In

The closest bus stop, Deyama, is about a 5-minute ride from the Hakone-Yumoto Station bus stop, or 25 minutes from JR Odawara Station. It leaves you right in front of the large suspension bridge that serves as the entrance to the inn's grounds.

Apart from regular route buses, Hakone Tozan Kanko Bus operates a shuttle service between Hakone-Yumoto Station and Kinnotake Tonosawa for a fare of 100 yen (one-way). Please note, this shuttle service operates on a limited schedule.

The verdant bridge pictured here is the Hayakawa Bridge. And if your timing is right, you may even catch a glimpse of the Hakone Tozan Railway passing by. As it sits within the inn’s premises, this unique spectacle is exclusively visible to guests of Kinnotake Tonosawa!

“Being surrounded by nature is amazing! The Hakone Tozan Railway passing by is a must-see. The sight of the red train against the green mountain backdrop is super picturesque!” says Chia-chi. The train only passed by for a brief moment, so we made sure not to miss the chance to snap some photos.

While strolling down the pathway toward the hotel building, we notice the staff eagerly awaiting us at the entrance gate from afar. Their warm greeting from a distance make us feel really welcome!

We then proceed with the check-in procedures at the lounge in the lobby.

At check-in, guests are treated to a welcome service featuring a selection of tea, sweets, and drinks. The menu offers sweets like Warabi mochi and soufflé cheesecake, alongside drinks like tea, coffee, juice, and even beer and sparkling wine.

I opt for the white beer and warabi mochi, while Chia-chi has soufflé cheesecake and black tea. It’s nothing short of luxurious to be able to indulge in drinks and sweets together at noon. While enjoying our treats, we filled out our guest cards and were briefed on the hotel and its services. Dinner and breakfast time are divided into two parts. Since we couldn’t wait, we opted for the earlier dinner time (5:30 p.m.) and chose the later breakfast the next day (9:00 a.m.).

Guests can select their favorite yukata from a variety of patterns. Chia-chi opts for a white yukata decorated with pink flowers, while I choose the yellow and black striped one. We deliberately choose different colors and patterns to create contrast and visual appeal in our photos.

Room Tour & Amenity Check: A Must-Do for Travel Lovers!

Room Tour & Amenity Check: A Must-Do for Travel Lovers!

We stay in the Hikari Room, a spacious 94-square-meter Japanese-Western fusion with a large sofa bed, table, and a four-tatami room with Ryukyu tatami mats, offering a space for relaxation.

Upon entering the room, our attention is immediately drawn to the expansive window and roomy balcony with the open-air bath beyond it. The window was like a picture frame, and neither of us could contain our excitement at the natural scenery unfolding before our eyes, enveloping us in the room’s sense of harmony. “I’ve never stayed in such a spacious room before!” says Chia-chi. “I’m looking forward to a relaxing retreat.”

The aromatic Aomori hiba bath comfortably accommodates two people. Outside, lush greenery and the gentle rustling of the wind make for soothing, natural background music.

The bed area boasts ample room, featuring soft, cozy mattresses that make for a good night's sleep. The overall space emphasizes a sense of openness, crafted with an eye for spatial design. The room avoids using towering furniture, and maintains a natural and calming color scheme throughout.

One of Chia-chi’s essential travel to-do’s is checking the amenities and room facilities. The fridge is well-stocked with beer, wine, tea, water, and juice, all included in the room rate! “Having access to such an array of free drinks in the comfort of your own room is truly a wonderful perk!”

The hot drinks include teas from Mighty Leaf Tea, a brand well-loved by health-conscious individuals for its trusty organic products free of artificial flavors. This attention to detail, even in the simple amenities, reflects the inn’s genuine consideration for nature and people.

The room is fully equipped with practical necessities like towels, bathrobes, an additional yukata (different from the one selected at check-in), a haori (traditional Japanese outer garment), a yukago (basket for toiletries), and slippers.

These are tabi socks, easy to wear with a non-slip backing. They were incredibly handy during our stay!

The shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and body cream are from the organic brand, Sensatia Botanicals. There’s also face cleanser, face wash, toner, and milk lotion. “All the body care products smell delightful. After pampering yourself with these wonderful scents, you’ll be sleeping like a baby!” says Chia-chi. Indeed, we were so comfortable we fell asleep right away!

“They have cotton pads, cotton swabs, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, and, of course, the essential hair ties and clips needed to put your hair up for a bath,” explains Chia-chi. “It's attention to detail at its finest, catering to women's specific needs.”

The Highlight of Japanese Inns! Private Onsen & After-Soak Toast!

The Highlight of Japanese Inns! Private Onsen & After-Soak Toast!

The time before dinner is dedicated to onsen relaxation! As a fan of hot springs, my personal motto is to indulge as much as possible in the soothing baths when staying at an onsen inn. Although the water is a bit hot, you can adjust the temperature to your liking by adding water from the faucet beside the tub.

Don't worry about being seen from the large windows. The blinds of all the windows can be lowered while you are using the open-air bath, ensuring total privacy.

The room also has an island-style washstand inside, along with a separate shower room between the balcony and open-air bath (pictured left in photo).

After rinsing off in the shower room, it's time to visit the onsen. Indulging in a hot spring with a breathtaking view all to yourself is one of the greatest pleasures of a Japanese ryokan. The water is gentle and light, with minimal irritants, allowing for comfortable bathing as often as you like. After your bath, your skin will feel so moisturized and smooth, just like a natural beauty treatment.

After a leisurely soak in the springs, we rehydrate ourselves with drinks in our room.

Local Hakone specialties, including the incense used at the inn and the tea and snacks available at the drink bar, are available for purchase near the front desk.

On the way to the dining area for dinner, we take some time to do a little shopping. “I love the sound of the wind chimes,” Chia-chi says as she browses for her favorite items.

Perfection from Dinner to Dessert! Authentic and Creative Kaiseki Cuisine

Perfection from Dinner to Dessert! Authentic and Creative Kaiseki Cuisine

Our eagerly anticipated dinner at Kinnotake Tonosawa is an original Kaiseki meal prepared by Japanese cuisine chefs. The menu is especially impressive, leaving Chia-chi delighted: “I’ve never had such an authentic Japanese course meal before!”

There’s a special emphasis on sake, with a diverse selection of local varieties available. During our visit, we savored a “hiyaoroshi” (special autumn sake) from Kanagawa Prefecture, exclusively available at this time of year. Its mild, sweet flavor complements the meal perfectly, tempting you to indulge in more than one glass.

The menu changes with the seasons, highlighting the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. The skillful handiwork of the Japanese chefs shines through in their dishes, including salad bowls with persimmons, rare simmered dishes, and grilled meals.

The sashimi, paired with soy sauce and bubble salt, leaves an unforgettable impression. The dishes are also beautifully arranged and visually pleasing.

The staff explains each dish as they serve it to you. By knowing about each dish, you can appreciate the taste even more, leaving you in awe of the intricacy and unique flavors that surpass daily dining.

Kanagawa beef with exquisite marbling, served freshly grilled on a ceramic plate right before your eyes

Chia-chi's smile of delight speaks volumes! The grilled meat was super tender, its sweet, juicy fat melting away in an instant.

A dish of rice adorned with seasonal autumn salmon, generously topped with salted salmon roe. Additional servings of rice and miso soup are available upon request.

Among the selection of five generous desserts, one standout was the sweet potato mousse—a novel experience for us in terms of taste and texture.

You can also savor your dessert leisurely in the lounge area. We thoroughly enjoyed our luxurious full course Japanese cuisine, a rarity in our usual dining experiences.

But Wait, There’s More! Gossip and Drinks at the Bar!

But Wait, There’s More! Gossip and Drinks at the Bar!

At the lounge's bar counter, you can order a range of beverages from soft drinks to alcohol (from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. / 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Please note that guests cannot bring their own drinks into the restaurant). This service is included with the room at no additional charge. Though we were full from our satisfying meal, we decided to have a drink to unwind after dinner.

This space is known as Bar Bamboo. Although it was temporarily closed for business at the time of our visit, it was open for use as a lounge, allowing us to enjoy a leisurely time sipping the drinks we ordered at the counter. “Having a glass of sake in bed is a quintessential experience for adult travelers,” says Chia-chi.

Starting November 2023, the lounge will resume operation as a bar (from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., 1,100 yen per person.)

The serene, refined ambiance, complemented by the drinks, led to profound conversations about work and life in Japan—a unique experience as only travel can offer.

Fireworks are a summer tradition in Japan, and at Kinnotake Tonosawa, you can enjoy sparkling fireworks all year round on the balcony in front of the lounge.

These days, finding spots to enjoy handheld fireworks in the city center has become increasingly rare, making these moments particularly precious. “Taiwan doesn’t have sparklers, but I’ve seen them in Japanese TV dramas since I was a little girl, so they make me feel nostalgic,” said Chia-chi.

Experiencing handheld fireworks for the first time in a long while made me feel as if I had returned to my childhood, too. Despite the cold weather, there’s a certain charm in spending time close to the fire while admiring the fireworks.

Back in the room, our conversation continued on the balcony's sofa space until bedtime, where we enjoyed a peaceful moment in the night breeze. Before retiring for the night, we took another dip in the hot spring, and enjoyed a nice, long rest.

Morning Meditation with a Spectacular View, and A Delicious, Nutritious Breakfast!

Morning Meditation with a Spectacular View, and A Delicious, Nutritious Breakfast!

The following morning, after a restful sleep in the comfortable bed, we awoke to a delightful view of lush greenery and the sun beaming down on us. We opened the large windows, and meditated together. The rustling of the trees and the pleasant breeze help awaken our minds and bodies. After a quick soak in the open-air bath, we get ready for breakfast.

Breakfast is held in the same dining space as dinner.

You have the option of Japanese or Western breakfast (selected at check-in). Today, Chia-chi opted for Western-style food while I chose Japanese food. Similar to dinner, the morning menu also includes a description of each dish, adding a thoughtful touch.

This is the Japanese breakfast. Nourish your energy for the day with a fulfilling ryokan-style set meal featuring seasonal steamed veggies, tofu, grilled fish, omelet, and rice porridge. You can even get free refills on your rice and miso soup.

Salad from the Western menu.

Fresh orange juice, omelet, sausage, soup, and three kinds of fresh, warm bread. We were told that we could get refills on the bread and soup, and Chia-chi, particularly enamored by the delicious bread, made sure to grab a second helping.

After dinner, it's time to relax in the lounge.

In the morning, the area is bathed in sunlight, creating a bright ambiance that differs from that at check-out time, offering a sense of openness.

As we savor a post-meal drink from the beverage corner, we look back on our stay.

Healing Spots Everywhere! Strolling the Grounds Until Check-out

Healing Spots Everywhere! Strolling the Grounds Until Check-out

We take a short stroll around the grounds before checking out. A river flows from this area down to the base, and during early summer, you can even see fireflies!

The Moon Spa is located in a separate building, offering exclusive body and facial treatments by reservation only.

Teppan Dining Zen opened in July 2023 as the sole restaurant in Kanagawa Prefecture, offering rare premium beef, with an annual shipment of 48 units. This restaurant boasts the highest-quality Kobe beef course, allowing patrons to savor only the finest Japanese beef. Guests also have the option to enjoy dinner at this restaurant for an additional fee during check-in. It is scheduled to open to the general public in January 2024.

Kinnotake Tonosawa: Where Body and Soul Find Healing

Kinnotake Tonosawa: Where Body and Soul Find Healing

When asked again about her stay, Chia-chi shared her impressions: “I’ve visited hot springs previously, but this was my first time staying in a room with an open-air hot spring bath. It was a truly luxurious experience to be able to bathe as much as I wanted at any time from noon until the next morning. The staff were incredibly kind and attentive. It was a great memory. On the way home, I already found myself thinking about my next stay (laughs).”

Having stayed in numerous locations in Japan as well as abroad, I was truly impressed by Kinnotake Tonosawa’s attention to space and its exceptional customer service. Every area within the establishment was spacious and inviting. And regardless of when or where I encountered the staff during my stay, I was always treated with the utmost politeness and friendliness. Even looking back now, I still have heartwarming memories from that time.

The most important point I’d like to share with foreign guests: “This establishment offers the comfort of a resort hotel with the remarkable hospitality and service of a first-class ryokan, a testament to Japan’s pride.”

Upon stepping inside, you’ll immediately sense the distinct ambiance that sets Kinnotake Tonosawa apart from the typical Hakone-Yumoto area and its surroundings. Your stay here will undoubtedly be a priceless memory of your trip to Japan, where both mind and body find solace and healing.

  • Languages:
    Japanese, English
  • Facility Information:
    Number of rooms: Total 23 rooms, 8 types
    Hours: Check-in: 3:00 p.m. / Check-out: 11:00 a.m.
    Rates: Starting at 50,750 yen per person (tax & bath tax included / On weekdays: 2 guests per room / per person)

Written by:

Miyu Shimada

Miyu Shimada

Miyu is a travel writer and tour conductor with over a decade of experience in developing educational content for working individuals. She has a passion for exploring new cultures and has visited more than 150 cities in around 50 countries. Her goal is to sample great food, experience nature, enjoy historical sites, and bathe in hot springs around the world. Miyu left her corporate job to pursue her passion for travel and now spends over 100 days a year abroad while working as a writer. She promotes the joy of travel, the beauty of Japan, and the diverse cultures of the world by traveling to different parts of Japan and collaborating with inbound tour operators and fellow travel writers. On X/Twitter: @myuu_works.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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