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Goin’ Japanesque!

Kanaguya Hot Springs Hotel: How Often Do You Get to Stay in a Cultural Asset!

This is the “Kanaguya”, an Onsen Yado (Hot Spring Hotel) in Nagano Prefecture. At one time, there were many rumors that this may be (unofficially) what the Aburaya from Sprited Away is modeled after. Indeed, the interior that we are about to show is very similar so enjoy.

Here’s an article on Aburaya: Looks Like! Here’s the Real Setting for Spirited Away!

This entire area, featuring the Kanaguya is called the Shibu Onsen district. It is a hot spring resort that has continued for 1,300 years. Once outside the hotel, there is an entire cityscape unseen around modern hotels or Japanese style ryokan accommodations, and very befitting to yukata (summer kimono) and geta-sandals.

If you do come to stay, do stroll around town in a Japanese style attire. 




The Saigetsurou, a four-story wooden building completed in the 11th year of the Showa Period (1936). 

The structure is made with hardly any use of nails or metal fittings and made by merely putting together wood. Even so, it has been maintained in almost the same condition as it was back in the time. Today in Japan, it is restricted by law to build a 4 story structure of wood and so this is a type of building that you will rarely encounter. 

The scenery of it being lit up looks golden and amazing. 

The famous connecting passageway. Please remember this as the “place you saw on the GJ website” if you ever get to visit. 


It is engraved as a Registered Tangible Cultural Asset. The steep stairway adds to the atmosphere.

Parts of the water mill that was used in the floor and the grid pattern design shows the playfulness of the Miyadaiku (carpenter specializing in temple, shrine, etc.). These can be spotted all around so finding them is one way of enjoying the visit. It should be exciting to explore throughout the hotel. 

The window shaped like Mount Fuji is also artistic. The light expresses the moon that looms in the sky above Mount Fuji. There is that much thought into the architecture. 


The Great Hall

This large hall is also in the process of being registered as a cultural asset. This “nijugo” ceiling is astonishing! Additionally, the arching details between the wall and ceiling called the “oriage” is the highest quality craftsmanship of the Miyadaiku. There is no equivalent for works of this scale in other hotels and not even in shrines and temples. 


The Common Area Bath

There are 3 common area baths.

1. Rotenburo (the Outdoor Bath)



2. Roman Buro



3. Kamakura Buro




Kashikiri Buro (Privately Reserved Bath)

There are 5 reserved baths.

All the reserved baths can be locked from the inside so you can relax as if your bathing in your own home. Awesome!

1. Wayo no Yu



A tub shaped like a ship. It is recommended to relax lying down. 

2. Bimyo no Yu


A bath that is made from the precious wood of Kiso. You can feel the gentleness of the wood.

3. Keiwa no Yu


A bath that is made from the stones of the Asamayama. The red color is specific to the stones of Asamayama. 

4. Gankutsu no Yu


A bath that is surrounded in its entirety by natural rocks. It’s like a cave.

5. Koyasu no Yu


A combination of the Asama rocks and wood. This one is my favorite.

Does this make you want to try one of the 8 baths? It is of course possible to try all of them.
At the same time, don’t forget to experience the “hotel” as a cultural asset.

Also, you will probably see some wild Japanese monkeys from the window of your hotel or in the hot spring resort. 

Why? Recommended Sightseeing Route: Jigokudani Monkey Park: See the Only Snow Monkeys in the World



2202 Hirao, Yamanouchi-town, Shimotakai-gun Nagano Prefecture, Map
From JR Nagano Station > Take the Nagano Dentetsu Line to Yudanaka-eki Station> Take the Nagaden Bus (10 minutes) to Sibuonsen or Wagoubashi 
Phone: 0269-33-3131
Price: 20,520yen and up per person per 

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