I’m back for more and this time I will introduce a location that holds a special place in my heart.
So, where might this be?
Let me tell you!
This is Sanga Ryokan in Kurokawa Onsen! In order to recuperate after Covid-19, many of the onsen establishments in my town offer special deals and discounts aimed at locals to encourage hometown travel.
So I took this opportunity to stay at Kurokawa Onsen for the first time! Kurokawa Onsen is made up of around 30 separate ryokans, but for me, the choice was clear! When I came to Minamioguni for the very first time in February 2018, Sanga was the first onsen I visited. Since then I have come here both privately and through work many times and grown to love this place. So it only felt natural that my first actual stay would be here as well!
So, let’s get right into it!
As you enter you are greeted by the warm staff and get to sit down in the atmospheric lobby enjoying some tea and Japanese sweets as the staff explains everything you need to know to enjoy a night at Sanga.
This was our room called Hisakaki!
Clean and classic Japanese style with tatami mats and everything you need to immerse yourself in the complete traditional Japan-experience.
Right outside the window flows Ta no Haru river soothing you with the soft murmuring of the stream.
Our room also had another feature!
Yep! Our own private onsen right in the room!! These rooms costs slightly more, 18,000 yen a night while the cheaper once are set at 15,000 yen a night. This extra feature is awesome and feels really luxurious. But even if you don’t want to pay the extra money, rest assured because Sanga has a wide variety of baths for you to enjoy! Let me show you a few!
This is “Hinoki”, a privately rentable bath with a tub carved out of cypress wood. It is more spacious than it looks and is perfect for couples or families. I loved the fact that you could actually feel the grains of the wood as you sit in the bath giving it a very natural and relaxing feeling. And remember, these “rentable baths” are limited to staying customers and can all be reserved for free at the front desk!
Next, let’s have a look at the shared open-air baths!
Firstly we have Shiki-no-yu which is the female-only outdoor onsen! These baths are available to non-staying guests as well but they are very spacious, and depending on the time, you will have a good chance to get it all to yourself.
This is the male-version, Moyai-no-yu. Or to be more exact, it is actually a mixed bath, but I’ve never seen anything but men in here so it’s more or less a male bath.
Next we have one of the absolute highlights!
Rokusyaku-oke! Which, for the record, also is a private bath only available to staying guests!
Surrounded by lush green nature, you get this large tub and open space all to yourself! It’s located slightly away from the main building and the other baths which truly gives you the feeling of being in your own private space, closed off to the rest of the world.
This bath alone is reason enough to stay at Sanga and I already look forward to experience it again during another season!
These are only a few of all the onsen that Sanga has to offer, and if you have money to spare, you can even enjoy private open-air baths in your room!
But Sanga is about more than only the onsen.
Sanga has truly managed to create an otherworldly feeling and it is an amazing experience to just stroll around the small village-like area surrounded by moss, greenery and atmospheric buildings that make you feel like you have traveled back in time.
Every angle and every detail make for great photo-spots so I encourage to keep your camera close at hand.
Slowly, as darkness sets in, the area takes on a new appearance as it is lit up by small lanterns along the pathways.
If you start to feel a bit chilly, why don’t you take a break by the footbath?
Or you can sit down and warm yourself as you listen to the crackling firewood.
For a Studio Ghibli-fan like myself, the atmosphere of Sanga is like being in paradise. Do I need to say anything else?
So, let’s get into another of the main parts of staying at a Ryokan.
The food!!! 🍣 🍖 🍚 🍅 🥢
I’m no expert-food-critic so I’ll let the pictures do the most of the talking!
If you think that a stay feels a bit expensive, remember that it includes a high-quality course dinner featuring local specialities made with seasonal ingredients from the area. You will get to enjoy everything form steak to sushi and even hot pot!
Every single dish is prepared with utmost care and presented beautifully. I had heard before that Sanga has great food, but even though my expectations were high, it did not disappoint at all. If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, this is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience it!
I also love the fact that you get it all prepared in your room making the experience very relaxed and comfortable!
Oh, wait, a high-end course dinner isn’t everything!
The stay also includes a spectacular breakfast! The shining star of the breakfast must have been…
Steamed vegetables!!! Steamed food truly brings out the full flavor of the already delicious locally sourced ingredients. I could eat this for every meal every day!
Some people might feel unused to this type of breakfast that includes rice, fish, vegetables, miso soup and other stuff that usually might make you think of lunch or dinner. But! Here is the big but! Remember that the Japanese have the longest average life-length in the world! This healthy and well-rounded breakfasts might be one of the reasons!? Keep an open mind and see this opportunity as the unique and fascinating experience that it is! And who knows, it might even prolong your lifespan with a extra year or two!
One more important thing before I finish!
Also remember to take one of these cheesy and generic yukata-pictures in front of the window in your room! It might feel silly, but it will definitely be a memorable picture! I’ve already printed out an oversized version of this one to hang on my wall!
So, all in all, Ryokan Sanga is a great place to stay a night! I truly enjoyed every part of my visit and it only made me want to come back for more. I can’t wait to stay in the winter and slip into the open-air onsen surrounded by a thick layer of snow, or sit down in Rokusyaku-oke’s round bathtub as the leaves change into the bright vivid colors of autumn.
I also want to direct a special thanks to the wonderful, attentive and heartwarming staff of Ryokan Sanga, it’s thanks to them that all the separate parts come together into a wonderful whole and turns Sanga from a great experience into an unforgettable one!
Covid-19 is still a reality and it’s hard to encourage traveling since we all need to be careful and do whatever it takes to limit the spread of the virus. But hopefully, in a soon foreseeable future, you will be able to experience Sanga as well!
For more information on Ryokan Sanga, check out their official website which is available in English as well!
Thank you for reading this far, stay safe, love and hugs!