Kick Back Like a Samurai at the World’s Oldest Hotel

More than 1,300 years in business, and not one bad Yelp review.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan
Photo: Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

Tucked into the South Japanese Alps lies Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, the world’s oldest hotel, according to Guinness World Records. Founded in 705 AD by statesman Fujiwara Mahito, the ryokan prides itself on its tradition and rich history. From serving shoguns and samurai to its rushing natural spring, here’s what makes the property so unique.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan
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Family pride

Currently in its 1,310th year of management, Keiunkan has been run by the same family for many generations—52 to be exact. Though the décor may have changed over time, the customs and hospitality model have been passed down from family member to family member. (And to stay in business this long, they must be doing something right!)

Soaking samurai

Prominent military leaders like shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu are said to have frequented the inn’s natural spring during Japan’s warring period. It’s not hard to imagine why. After a long day of battle, wouldn’t you want to hide away in the mountains and relax in a hot spring? Takeda Shingen, a medieval feudal lord, is also said to have done his fair share of soaking here.

Rooms—and baths—with a view

All of the property’s hot water comes from the natural spring on which it sits. Gorgeous wooden baths are placed throughout the property, giving visitors the opportunity to soak both indoors and out while surrounded by views of the mountains and ravine.

Ancient design, modern amenities

You might expect traditional architecture from a hotel that’s been around over 1,000 years, but Keiunkan provides visitors with a lovely mix of both age-old Japanese customs and sleek, contemporary design. Most rooms include tatami mat areas and large windows to provide views of the rugged exterior.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan
Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

Record-setting environs

Keiunkan boasts about its fast-flowing spring, claiming that it produces 1,630 liters of hot spring water per minute. It’s the best in Japan, but could it be the best in the world? It looks like Guinness may have to look into Keiunkan for a second time.

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