The world's oldest hotel is in Japan and open for more than 1300 years
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International Travel


Tradition can mean a lot in any part of the world, and nowhere is that more evident than in Japan. There are businesses that have been operating continuously for centuries on end. That includes at more than one hotel.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan has been in continuous operation for over 1300 years. If that’s not impressive enough, it’s been run by the same family for the entire time. There are a lot of good reasons why this is a place people keep coming back to year after year.

Building Japan’s oldest hotel

Japan

TANABE, JAPAN – JUNE 13: Tsubo-yu onsen, designated as UNESCO World Heritage listed hot spring, is pictured in Yunomine-onsen, renowned as Japan’s oldest hot spring on June 13, 2019 in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. Pilgrims walking the Kumano Kodo would rest and purify themselves at Yunomine Onsen, which is said to be discovered about 1,800 years ago. The Kumano Kodo is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes that connect “Kumano Sanzan” or three grand shrines – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. Kumano Kodo, Kumano Sanzan are registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites along with Koyasan, Yoshino and Omine as the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. (Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)

Founded by Fujiwara Mahito at the foot of the Akaishi Mountains in 705 AD, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan has been owned and operated by 52 generations of the same family. That is a legacy that few other businesses in the world can boast.

This hotel is built around an onsen, one of Japan’s traditional hot springs. The term also refers to the inns and hotels around them. That includes the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan which gains its hot water from the nearby Hakuho Springs which has been regarded as having healing powers.

In 1997, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan went through a full renovation process. While it was updated in many ways, it retained the charm and history of a classic onsen. This incredible place might not be as popular as it once was but that doesn’t change its importance to Japan.

The hotel itself

This stunning facility is an absolute treat for anyone who makes their way to it. While the history encompassed in this 1,316-year-old hotel is certainly worth experiencing, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is more than a historical tidbit.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan only has 37 rooms. But that makes the experience more quiet and peaceful as there aren’t thousands of people staying there at the same time. It enhances the overall relaxing experience, to say the least.

Each room has its own free-flowing hot spring bath with naturally heated water pumping straight from Hakuho Springs. Additionally, there are two public hot spring baths on the fourth floor with two private ones on the first floor.

In addition to that, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan also features a traditional kaiseki restaurant that serves multi-course meals. And once you’re done in the hot baths and finished your eating, make sure to check out the moon-viewing platform.

Location is everything in Japan

Japan

SHIKOKU, MITOYO, KAGAWA, JAPAN – 2019/07/09: The most impressive feature of Iyadan-ji is its massive compound that has been carved into a mountain, one of those temples with grounds that just keep on going and going. For this reason, many people think of it as the cave temple. The peacefulness of the surrounding forest and high elevation reminds many of Mt. Koya. The buddhas that have been carved into the mountain and view from the top of the mountain are most impressive. (Photo by John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Naturally, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan was built at the base of the beautiful Akaishi Mountains to take advantage of the Hakuho Springs. But the mountains themselves offer a variety of opportunities to find serenity, including enjoying local wildlife like Sika Deer and Japanese Serow.

The hotel is in Hayakawa, a small village. You should still keep in mind that it’s roughly a three-hour drive to Tokyo or Mount Fuji as well as only being a couple of hours from the coast. It’s not exactly walking distance but you can still see the sights from Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan.

Japan is an incredible country with more to show even seasoned travelers who have spent significant amounts of time there. And a hotel that holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest in continuous operation is certainly a worthy addition to any itinerary.



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