Fujiya Ryokan is one of the most luxurious ryokans, which are traditional Japanese style inns, in the beautiful mountainous hot spring resort town of Kurokawa Onsen. Overlooking the Chikugo River, this five star luxury ryokan only has four guest rooms, so it can be competitive to get a booking, but we were lucky enough to experience their award winning hospitality, incredible hot spring fed baths, and delightful, traditional fine dining experiences during our most recent adventure to Japan.
Fujiya Ryokan (ふじ屋)
Location: Kurokawa Onsen
Address: 6541 Manganji, Minamioguni,
Kumamoto 869-2402, Japan
Staff Helpfulness & Friendliness: 5/5
Room size: 5/5
Room Amenities: 5/5
Room and Bed Comfort: 5/5
View from Room: 5/5
Food Variety: 4/5
Food Quality: 5/5
Internet Service Quality: 5/5
Spa: 5/5 (Traditional Japanese Onsen,
No Spa Services)
Proximity to Other Points of Interest: 5/5
Valet Parking: No
Fujiya ryokan is located in the beautiful mountainous hot springs resort village of Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto, Japan. We spent a long weekend here during our most recent trip to Japan and had an absolutely wonderful time exploring the countryside, soaking in the hot springs, eating delightful, traditional meals, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of being in the mountains. We got here by taking a two hour bus trip up the mountains, which made everything very convenient for us, since we didn’t have to drive or worry about transferring between trains. Fujiya is located about a 6 minute walk from the Kurosawa Onsen bus stop, so reaching it is very easy and convenient. Away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, we could see the gorgeous stars and the Milky Way galaxy from here, which made our time here that much more special.
When we stepped off the bus at the bus station, we noticed a bit of an odd scent, which was a result of the minerals that naturally occur in the water that comes up out of the ground in the area’s hot springs. Quickly, we forgot about the scent, and walked to the ryokan. We passed the Chikugo River, which was a great place to look at the other ryokan in the area. It was fascinating to see that many of them had a surplus of fresh, hot spring water, which they dumped into the river causing it to steam. The walls of the river’s embankment were covered in lush, dense moss, as was much of the town, and the minerals deposited along the bank gave the water a shimmery reddish gold tint, which was absolutely beautiful in the afternoon sun. We learned so much about hot springs and the ancient technology still used today that harnesses the water’s power to fuel not just the area’s baths, but also much of their electricity and cooking methods. If you see lots of steam rising in my photos, it’s from the hot springs!
We stayed in a western style room, as it was the only room left by the time we booked a few weeks ahead of our six week stay in my favorite country. Our room was very spacious and had two western style beds, as opposed to futon, which was fine with us, and we had our own restroom and toilet. The bathrooms are shared spaces meant for showing and taking baths, but are separated by gender or families, so since my husband and I were there together, we were able to get a private family bath and bath together.
Fujiya doesn’t have its own outdoor hot spring bath, but as with all of the ryokan in Kurokawa Onsen, you can visit any other inn and use their bathing facilities with the onsen hopping pass for ¥1300 (roughly $10USD) per person, which we purchased at the ryokan’s front desk. Read more about onsen hopping passes here. Noshiyu, which is another ryokan located in Kurokawa Onsen roughly a 5 minute walk from Fujiya is the sister ryokan of Fujiya, and they have a gorgeous, spacious outdoor bathing area separated by gender that guests of Fujiya may use free of charge, without the onsen hopping pass.
The food at Fujiya Ryokan is absolutely outstanding. We had an incredible dinner the first two nights we stayed here, as well as breakfast both days, as both meals are included with each guests’ stay. We’ve eaten at Michelin Starred restaurants around the world, and our meals here were right up there with the best of the best cuisine we’ve ever had. Each dinner was kaiseki-ryōri, which means a traditional multi-course meal consisting of 8-20 or more dishes. I believe our meals were around 15 courses and dishes each evening.
If you love traditional Japanese dishes like natto, Japanese Hot Pot, lobster tempura and other beautifully deconstructed or reimagined seafood dishes, and one of my favorites, a chilled soup with baby ferns, shown below next to my other favorite, the rice flour tempura lobster. Everything was positively divine!
The ryokan offers plenty of amenities for both men and women, like shaving instruments, toothbrush, toothpaste and other hygiene items, hair ties, and so much more, plus in room snacks, and tea. In fact, we were offered tea anytime we were in the common area, when we arrived, when we were waiting to depart, and with every meal. I love tea, and I often drink it at home, but I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere where I was given so much tea – even England didn’t come close to this!
The ryokan also provides yukata, cotton robes, to be worn when going to or from the baths, as well as towels, and other amenities one needs for bathing. You really don’t need to bring much except perhaps a book to read and
I mentioned above that one of the main draws of Fujiya, the other ryokan in the area, and Kurokawa Onsen as a whole is the natural hot spring baths. I’ll be creating an entire post on hot spring etiquette, the proper order of bathing, and more, but for now know that it is completely nude bathing (no swimsuits, towels, or underwear allowed inside the water), children are not allowed in the onsen town, and each bath is separated by men and women. Bathing outdoors under the stars in the fresh spring water while the crickets chirped in the background will always be one of my favorite memories.
Even if you are shy, like I was the first time I went nude bathing in Europe three years ago, it’s worth trying. You’ll quickly realize that no one is looking, no one cares what you’re doing, and everyone is there to relax and bathe. Keep an eye out for my guide to onsen (温泉), Japanese hot springs, etiquette so you can understand how to bathe respectfully around others, and the proper order of bathing in Japan, because it really does matter.
It’s also worth mentioning that unless any tattoos you may have can be easily covered up with a bandage, you will not be permitted inside the pools, unless they are completely private hot spring baths booked in advance.
Overall, this was one of our favorite places in Japan. It was so peaceful and quiet, there were no loud buses, cars, or bright lights at night, and since they don’t allow children, we could completely relax and unwind in the tranquil atmosphere without worrying about kids running around or being disruptive, and everyone around us was very respectful. The food was phenomenal, the hot springs were so rejuvenating, and the journey to the ryokan itself was an adventure that we will remember for a lifetime. If you get the chance to visit Kurokawa Onsen, we loved our stay at Fujiya and would recommend it to anyone.
Until next time!
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