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ホーム > A dip in the baths of the world’s oldest hotel: Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

A dip in the baths of the world’s oldest hotel: Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

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       705 A.D, just a few years before Japan’s first coins were minted Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan (Keiunkan for short) opened their doors to the public in exchange for popular bartering items such as rice and arrow heads. And for the following 1,300+ years since then, its doors have remained open, gaining the hotel the Guinness World record of the longest running hotel in the world. This time around we took an hour and half ride out to Hayakawa-cho, a small town South West of Kofu and spent one wonderful night taking a dip in the baths of the world’s oldest hotel.
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Name plates of currently staying guests written on the right.

       Our group of eight took up two of the Keiunkan’s 35 rooms. The guys group, which was 5 members strong had the lucky opportunity to have a room with a private open-air (hot springs) bath attached. However, one interesting thing we learned was that all of the water in the hotel (save for that used to flush the toilets) is fresh hot springs water. In fact, because the water is so hot the Hotel doesn’t even have a boiler! Talk about economical!                 
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Open air bath in the guy’s room. Photo property of Keiunkan.


      But of course if we were to talk about the oldest hotel in the world, we cannot fail to mention its history. Takeda Shingen is one of the most reknowned Warlords of Japan’s Warring States period and the pride and joy of many a Yamanashi-an. It is said that not only did he spend many nights here, but so did one of his most formidable enemies. Tokugawa Ieyasu; the man who would later inherit the will of Oda Nobunaga and succeed in uniting the nation of Japan. Perhaps as proof of Tokugawa’s stay, not too far out west from the hotel near the Bentendou Taki there is even a statue of one of his dearest of concubines, Youjuin (aka Oman no Kata).
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Statue of Oman no Kata, Hayakawa-cho

      Although no one is sure of how exactly Takeda Shingen died it is well known that it was during a break in a battle between his and Tokugawa’s battalions. From here on is just speculation, however, it often rumored that during this time Tokugawa had sent an assassin to sneak into the enemy camp and murder Takeda Shingen. After all Takeda Shingen was the only warlord to ever defeat Tokugawa in battle and he was already in the midst of winning. He was also the only one with the wit and ability to stop Tokugawa and Nobunaga’s advances. One of the rumors behind Tokugawa’s multiple stays at the Keiunkan was to meet with a spy he had planted inside of Takeda’s army. If this was all true then it is entirely possible that what had occurred at the Keiunkan roughly 450 years had ultimately contributed to the forming of Japan into the nation we know today. And some people say history is boring!

     But that’s enough historical banter (for now), back to our stay at modern day Keiunkan. Despite the hotel’s rich history, the building itself had recently been remodeled in the 90’s and so the rooms were rather clean and well kept. They also made sure to keep the traditional Japanese (wa-shitsu) design intact during the remodeling so not being able to feel the deep history in the buildings architecture isn’t a problem.
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Photo property of the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

     The Keiunkan had 4 baths available for us to peruse, two indoor and two outdoor. Both of which were switched between being male only or female only at the strike of 8. That being said, we first hit the baths at 7 then of course went back for more at 9 and just like that all four non-reserved baths were cleared by the girls team! Unlike the men’s group our room did not come with an attached open hair bath so we did have to journey all the way up one flight of stairs to try the one on the fourth floor. The water was beautiful, and so was the nice mountain views and twinkling stars in the night sky. And although we hadn’t rented the bath out or anything, perhaps because it was so late we were the only ones taking a dip at the time so we had the whole place to ourselves!
      In the middle of our bathing spree we stopped to enjoy a traditional full-course meal called Kaiseki. I personally am a light eater and it was a bit rough on me but everything was absolutely delicious. I particularly enjoyed the light grape flavored ice cream in the middle of the meal to cleanse our palettes and ready us for part two. Also towards the end of the meal we had a little stone grill that as heated, secreted an oil that we could use for cooking. Each guest had their own as well as four slabs of A5 Koshu beef and some vegetables so it was nice to see that food cook right before your eyes!

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      When making reservations, each room comes with two meals per night (breakfast and dinner for each guest) so the very next morning we were able to enjoy our fill once again. Luckily as this meal was breakfast it was a little lighter in portion size and I was able to finish most of it (although unfortunately there was no intermission ice cream). During breakfast I particularly enjoyed the salmon. One thing I would keep in mind however, as that for small numbers they may not be able to accommodate for dietary restrictions. But regardless your best bet is to tell them as far in as advance as possible if it something like a severe allergy. 

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          All in all our brief one night stay at the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan was certainly an occasion to remember. And to top it all off perfectly, the current owner of the hotel took our group out back and showed us the spout of the natural hot spring that ran through the entirety of the hotel. Turning the faucet and unleashing an endless stream of hot water into the morning sky produced a brief yet beautiful rainbow, and with that our time at the hotel came to an end.

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Koshu Nishiyama Hot Spring, Keiunkan

Nishiyama Hot Spring, Hayakawa-cho, Minamikoma-gun,
Yamanashi Prefecture 409-2702
TEL.+81-556-48-2111 FAX +81-556-48-2611

<About Keiunkan>
https://keiunkan.co.jp/en/( External link )

<Reservation>
https://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/detail/4453001/?anl=keiunkan&rn=1&apn=2&hcpn=0&cbn=0
( External link )