In the Gunma Prefecture, west of Tokyo, there exists a beautiful Ryokan called Bettei Senjuan. Gunma is famous for it’s onsen (hot spring) districts and can be a easily reached from Tokyo via Shinkansen for a quick overnight trip in just under 2 hours. This is exactly what we did as we were looking for a quick escape in our hectic schedule to relax and rejuvenate in the tranquil atmosphere that only a Ryokan can provide. and Bettei Senjuan did not let us down. The beautiful Ryokan only has 18 rooms, which means you often feel as if you are the only guests and you really are submerged into relaxation.
Upon arrival at the local station, we were picked up by by a driver from the ryokan, who was waiting for us at the station as we had provided our travel schedule to them in advance. After quickly loading our luggage we were just a short drive away from Bettei Senjuan. This ryokan is situated in a lush surrounding with mountains, forests and beautiful scenery surrounding you at every turn:
As we entered the lobby area, we were seated in the common area (pictured below) where we were provided with a warm towel, a light snack, and a drink to freshen us up form our journey. This is also where a member of the staff signed us in and gave us the details of the property.
As we walked through the ryokan, what really impressed me however, was the simple beauty of this property. They have designed the ryokan with what I feel was a simplicity by design and the architecture is stunning without being distracting.
Our room was very spacious and I was pleased to see that the layout was very functional. As we walked in, we passed through a small kitchen area with the toilets located down a small hall to the right and away from the main areas of the rest of the room (a nice touch). Through the kitchen, the room opened up into a large living room are that contained a table with 2 chairs, and a television.
Beyond the living room there was a separate room (think large walk-in closet) where our luggage had been delivered and where there were cupboards for our clothes, which was also where we would find our Yukata’s (traditional robes commonly worn throughout your stay at a Japanese Ryokan).
The real treat of our room however was to the left of the living room, where there was a fantastic seating are with floor to ceiling windows that provided gorgeous views of the mountains and forest. They even supplied binoculars for us to get a closer look at the flora and fauna just outside our room.
Adjacent to the sitting area, was our vanity area with a stand-up shower. Through the shower room there was also access to our private outdoor onsen bath that allowed you to soak in the natural beneficial mineral waters while also soaking in the spectacular view.
As we settled into our room, we were served tea and snacks by one of the staff. At this time we also made our dinner reservation for the Kaiseki dinner and I was surprised to also be asked about our preferences for the type of and the firmness of our mattresses and pillows, In most ryokans, Futons are put out in the main living room while you are at dinner, as they do not typically have separate bedrooms.
After some light unpacking, we donned our Yukatas and headed for the main onsen at Bettei Senjuan. Of course, the onsens are separated by the sexes and my wife and I went in our respective areas.
After getting undressed (no clothes are permitted in an onsen) and completely washing myself (a must in Japanese culture) I headed to the onsen located outside. There was also an indoor onsen, but I selected to enjoy the crispness of the evening while soaking in the hot (approximately 40 degrees Celsius) waters as I looked over the forest and mountains. Sorry, no pictures here for understandable reasons. Just below the outdoor onsen and down a little hill, there was also a seating area available.
Please also see the blog about the wonderful food we experienced at Bettei Senjuan here.
To book or learn more about this beautiful ryokan, please feel free to contact me here.