1,300 years and 52 generations of thermal baths and tradition

This Japanese inn, opened in 705the second year of the Keiun era, is officially – according to the criteria of the Guinness Book of Records – the oldest hotel in operation in the world. This astonishing fact is complemented by another equally astonishing fact: surprising. Until 2017, for fifty-two generations, the Nishiyama Onsen Ceremony It was run by the same family.

The hot springs, which are used as hot water in the hotel as well as in the baths, have flowed without interruption ever since, and have had much to do with the hotel’s longevity. These waters are highly appreciated by many locals (Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefectureat the foot of the Akaishi Mountains in central Japan), and have attracted visits from military personnel, politicians and intellectuals, which has accentuated its reputation as a secluded place deep in the mountains of the Kai region.

Illustrious personalities have indeed stayed at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, such as the current Emperor of Japan, Naruhitohistorical figures such as The Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Great Takeda Shingenboth from the 16th century. Daimio or ‘great man’ is the term used to refer to the most powerful feudal sovereign from the 10th to the 19th century in the history of Japan.

A five star ryokan
Current appearance of the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, with water as the protagonist and traditional decoration, what in Japan is known as a ryokan
Nishiyama Onsen Ceremony

The onsen (hot springs), which is now a five-star hotel, has changed a lot since its founding. First there were pools in caves, and then more elaborate baths in wooden cabins. Throughout its history, the facilities suffered from fires, landslides and a devastating typhoon. In 1997, it was radically transformed, with exclusive accommodations and the appearance of a traditional establishment, what in Japan is known as a ryokanIn 2005, private hot spring baths were added to all rooms.

Yamanashi Prefecture, where the resort is located, is in the same region as the World Heritage-listed Mount Fuji. It is a 60-minute drive from Minobu Station and 85 km from the nearest airport, Shizuoka.

A Spanish woman who stayed there described her stay as follows: “It was a special Japanese experience: the room, the onsen, the food, the views from the room and from the different pools. I liked everything but you have to bear in mind that there is nothing else to do at the hotel. Just rest and take hot baths. The shuttle service from Minobu takes one hour through some very beautiful scenery.

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