World’s oldest hotel in Guinness World Record is located in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan.
“慶雲館 (KEI UN KAN)” at “西山温泉 (NISHIYAMA ONSEN)” started their operation in 705, and it is listed in Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest hotel. It is located in the depths of the mountains in Yamanashi Prefecture.
According to the ancient record, 藤原真人 (FUJIWARA NO MAHITO), who would be named “定恵 (JOUE)” as a monk later, discovered the ONSEN springing out from a rock in the river while he was hunting. He tried bathing in it and he was so surprised because all his fatigue flew away. Then, he cut a road through the forest and mountains, and built a bathtub there. Since then, the rumor spread out, and a lot of people living nearby gathered there to release their fatigue. Since there was no medicines nor medical treatment in that era, people suffering from diseases and injuries come to gather here at NISHIYAMA ONSEN to cure them. This 湯治 (TOUJI) style has prospered here. This is the story of the time when this KEI UN KAN started. Through its long history, a lot of historical people such as 武田信玄 (SHINGEN TAKEDA) and 徳川家康 (IEYASU TOKUGAWA) also visited this secret hot spring, though it is located in the depths of the mountains.
Actually, up until 2010, another hotel was registered as the world’s oldest hotel in Guinness World Record, which was “法師 (HOUSHI)” at 粟津温泉 (AWAZU ONSEN) in ISHIKAWA Prefecture, started their operation in 718. However, in 2011, KEI UN KAN was registered as the world’s oldest hotel which opened in 705.
Needless to say, ONSEN at KEI UN KAN is “温泉かけ流し (ONSEN KAKENAGASHI / free-flowing ONSEN directly springing out from the source), and surprisingly this natural ONSEN has kept flowing without any drought since its opening in 705. What a great blessings of nature this is!!
The location of this hotel is 早川町 (HAYAKAWA Town) in Yamanashi Prefecture, and this is the town where has the smallest population in Japan. So you can easily imagine what a secret place this is.
Experience its heritage ONSEN.
The spring quality of this ONSEN is alkaline / sodium / calcium / sulfate / chloride spring, and it is very good to bathe in for your skin and good to drink for your stomach and intestines. Although its spring temperature at source is 52℃, it is naturally cooled down to 40-42℃ when it reaches to the bathtub, thus it is the best water temperature for us to bathe.
In addition, not only in the bathtub, but the water from the shower is also natural free-flowing ONSEN from the source without any added-water and temperature adjustment, which is quite rare and precious.
The secret why KEI UN KAN can provide that large amount of natural ONSEN even in the shower is because they have super huge amount of yield, which is 2030 liters per every minute. This is the sum of the amount of natural yield (400 liters per minute) and drilled blowout (1630 liters per minute). As an ONSEN Sommelier, the figure of yield is very important because it tells us for how many people the ONSEN of this place can be used. Normally the calculation is done like 1 liter per 1 minute is for 1 person in order to keep it fresh and clean. Therefore, it means this KEI UN KAN has capacity for 2030 persons, while it has only 35 rooms. Now you can imagine how blessed this hotel is!!
KEI UN KAN has 4 different sources of natural hot spring, and has 6 main bathes which each one of them has a different taste.
“望渓の湯 (BOUKEI NO YU)”: Observatory open air bath.
This is the signature bath of KEI UN KAN. Nature view surrounds you, and you can feel the good smell of 高野槙 (KOUYAMAKI / Japanese Umbrella Pine), the wood used for the bathtub, as well as gentle breeze. Expressions of the forest change in each season, so that you can enjoy its view in whichever season you visit here.
This signature BOUKEI NO YU is for men during 9:00 pm to 9:00 am, and for women from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
“白鳳の湯 (HAKUHO NO YU)”: Mountain stream open air bath.
This is an outdoor bath which “白鳳石 (HAKUHO ISHI / HAKUHO Stone)” is used for its bathtub. HAKUHO Stone is rocks and stones at HAYAKAWA River which is right in front of this hotel and it is high-class stone. That HAYAKAWA River can be overlooked from this bath.
This HAKUHO NO YU is for men from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and for women from 9:00 pm to 9:00 am.
“川音 (KAWANE)” and “瀬音 (SEOTO)”: Private open air bathes.
These 2 open air bathes are for private use. You can reserve them at the reception. After 10:00 pm, you can use them without any reservation.
“桧香の湯 (HIKOU NO YU)” and “石風の湯 (SEKIFU NO YU)”: Observatory indoor bathes.
Although these are indoor bathes, you can enjoy the panoramic view of mountains and HAYAKAWA River from their super wide windows. The bathtub of HIKOU NO YU is made of 檜 (HINOKI / Japanese Cypress) so that you can feel the good smell of the wood, while the bathtub of SEKIFU NO YU is made of stone which looks very beautiful.
The room with 月見台
KEI UN KAN has 35 rooms and all the rooms are equipped with indoor bath or open air bath with GENSEN KAKENAGASHI. All the rooms are traditional Japanese room, but really clean and sophisticated since it’s well renovated.
Among a variety of the rooms, this time I have decided to stay at the 数寄屋造 (SUKIYA style) room with 月見台 (TSUKIMI DAI / moon viewing veranda). I usually choose a room with private open air bath, but this time I prioritized TSUKIMI DAI because the moment and time to view moon with good atmosphere surrounded by nature must be really unforgettable.
数寄屋造 (SUKIYA style) is one of the Japanese architectures and it looks like the tea house where Japanese traditional tea ceremony is taken place.
TSUKIMI DAI faces the stream of HAYAKAWA River, and you can listen to the beautiful murmuring of stream and singing of insects very closely.
People living in the ancient times also waited for the moon like this. As you might have touched upon, some of the 百人一首 (HYAKUNIN ISSHU) tell you that the moon used to be indispensable scenery for Japanese people.
While viewing the moon, I have also enjoyed the chilled 甲州ワイン (KOSHU Wine) and お香 (OKOU / Japanese traditional incense) calmly with the melody of the singing of insects. It was really a peaceful night. Seems like I prefer to be closer to nature. Prefer to be in the forest rather than viewing it over the window. Prefer to be in the forest rather than being in the artificial zoo or botanical garden.
Yamanashi Prefecture is one of the most famous places for the grapes. That is why a lot of local wine called 甲州ワイン (KOSHU Wine) are produced in Yamanashi Prefecture, and there are many brands which were awarded. Although I prefer to taste Japanese SAKE in each place I visit, but obviously it’s nothing but KOSHU Wine I need to taste here.
Wonderful meal with full of blessings of mountains and sea.
Since their concept is that warm dishes should be tasted while it’s warm and cold dishes should be tasted while it’s fresh, the dishes are served one by one. It is full of blessings of nature including mountains and sea.
Breakfast is also wonderful. Since the portion of each dish is small, you can enjoy a variety of tastes.
Bathing in natural ONSEN in early morning gives you a different sense.
I love to bathe in natural ONSEN in early morning, especially the one surrounded by nature. This morning, I have been to one of the private open air bathes which is in front of the stream.
Look at this panoramic view of this stream and open air bath!! You will feel as if you become one with the nature.
If you would like to enjoy the open air bath better, I would recommend you to try it either at the sunset time or in early morning. At the sunset time, you can enjoy wonderful sunset with the scenery. And if it’s early morning, you can enjoy the most beautiful green color of the nature and the singing of birds, which make you awake very comfortably and peacefully.
Why don’t you try this world’s oldest hotel and its amazing blessings of nature?
The recommended local foods around this place is below.
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Another recommended ONSEN hotel near here is below.
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The recommended style of traveling around here.
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