There are many onsen areas in Kyoto as well as many inns that boast of their onsen. From among those, we will introduce 5 ryokan with open air baths that have amazing views to enjoy.
1. Aburaya Bekkan Nagomitei
Aburaya Bekkan Nagomitei, located in in the northern end of the Tango Peninsula in Kyoto’s northern region, is a peaceful and quiet ryokan overlooking the Sea of Japan. Since it's close to the sea you can enjoy the seafood-based Kyoto cuisine. All the rooms have an open air bath and the fact that you can see the ocean from the open air bath is magnificent. Since you can use the open air bath at any time, at night you can look up at the stars, while at dawn you can view the glittering sea as it's illuminated by the morning sun. You can enjoy it as many times as you like. Elementary school children and under are not allowed to use the bath so this is an inn for adults who would like to leisurely pass the time and soak in an onsen at their own pace. Also, this region has many funaya (traditional buildings around the seashore where the first floor is a garage for boats and the second floor is a living space) and you can take a field trip through the rows of funaya while riding on a maritime taxi.
2. Kurama Onsen
Kurama Onsen is located in the midst of nature so abundant that you wouldn’t believe it's only hour away from Kyoto Station. From Kurama Station, it is 3 minutes by a free shuttle bus that doesn’t require a reservation or about a 10 minute walk. There is a day trip course (open air bath only for 1,000 JPY (incl. tax) per adult or an indoor bath and open air bath course for 2,500 JPY (incl. tax)) so it’s an onsen you can visit hassle-free. For that reason, there are many visitors who come from outside of Japan. From the open air bath which is surrounded by all kinds of trees, you can enjoy the view from season to season and in particular, the view of the changing leaves in fall is exceptionally beautiful. It sits on Mt. Kurama, which is known for its folktales of tengu (a creature that is said to be a god or specter in traditional Japanese folk tales), and there are historical temples and shrines close by like Kurama Temple as well as Kifune Shrine so you can also get a sense of the splendor of the former capital Kyoto.
3. Hekisui Gyoen
Hekisui Gyoen is an inn where the beautiful ocean stretches out before your very eyes. Because the vast grounds has only 14 rooms that are luxuriously wide, inside the area it is peaceful and there is hardly ever any crowding in the bathhouse. At their pride-and-joy open air bath, you can hear the roar of the ocean while gazing upon the Kumihama bay stretching out before your eyes and enjoy yourself in this extraordinary space. You can also fully enjoy an extensive view of Kumihama bay from all of the sukiya (tea ceremony arbor) rooms. The meals are dishes made with carefully selected high class ingredients like Tamba beef, Matsuba crab, Iwagaki oyster, and abalone that you can leisurely savor in the comfort of your private room. There is also a promenade on the premises that you can stroll along while gazing at the ocean, making it the best inn for people who want to get their fill of gorgeous ocean scenery. Shotenkyo Beach is also located about 3 minutes away by car. You can get dropped off and picked up there so in the summer you can have fun swimming in the ocean.
4. Ryori Ryokan Yuhigaura
Yuhigaura (meaning sunset cove), exactly like its name suggests, is famous for being selected as having one of Japan's 100 Most Beautiful Sunsets. The Ryori Ryokan Yuhigaura, which is placed right before Yuhigaura, does not have an onsen in the rooms but you can bathe in the large public bath throughout the night until 9:00 am, and from the open air bath you can enjoy the beautiful contrast of the Sea of Japan against the setting sun. There is also a service plan where you can wear bright and colorful yukata that are quite different from the usual plain ones. When all is said and done, the biggest selling point of this inn is the food. As one would expect from an inn named Ryori Ryokan ("cuisine inn"), the quality and quantity of the food is superb. The courses can fully satisfy you with seafood which varies based on the season, like abalone dishes in the spring and crab dishes in the winter. This inn is recommended for people who want to have fun with everyone eating and drinking in their room as well as for taking the family along. The Yuhigaura beach is a short way from the inn with an 8km stretch of beautiful coastline. During the summer it’s perfect for sea bathing.
5. Kyoto Yunohana Onsen Syoenso Hozugawatei
Kyoto Yunohana Onsen Syoenso Hozugawatei is located 15 minutes via free shuttle bus from Kameoka Station which is only 20 minutes from Kyoto Station. It is an onsen with a wide variety beginning with 3 kinds of open air baths, foot baths, private baths, and more. There are also private rooms with open air baths and hinoki cypress baths included. People who want to enjoy onsen in every way possible should visit here. Also you’ll be happy to know that you can choose between Japanese-Western style rooms with a bed. From the Kameoka area where the Yunohana Onsen is located, there are many temples and shrines and if you go as far as Kyoto’s sightseeing spot Arashiyama, then we recommend travelling via the Sagano Scenic Railway or the Hozugawa River Boat. You can fully enjoy the overflowing greenery and the beautiful Hozugawa river valley on the Sagano Scenic Railway and the Hozugawa River Boat travels via boat on the rapids that flow between the canyon so you can also enjoy the thrilling side of nature.
Photo by: Kyoto Yunohana Onsen Syoenso Hozugawatei
Try these inns where you can savor the essence of Japan and enjoy beautiful scenery and onsen to the fullest.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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