Hokkaido is Japan’s frontier land filled with a sense of adventure and wonder. It is no mystery why Hokkaido has become one of Japan’s most popular destinations. As one of the country’s main islands and its largest single prefecture, Hokkaido is ripe for exploration. From secluded, serene hot springs that are only accessible under the cover of snow, to vast, open fields of beautiful flowers.
Hokkaido offers travelers year-round entertainment and leisure opportunities. From its capital city, known the world over for the award-winning beer which bares its name, Sapporo; to popular destinations filled with five-star accommodations (of which Hakodate is a highlight); as well as the vast fields fronted by seaside train rides.
International tourists flock to the city’s yearly snow festival, where members of Japan’s self-defense forces contribute to the creation of sculptures made from snow and ice. Come summer, the island’s crisp, fresh island breeze offers a welcome repose from the stifling heat that plagues cities further south.
Hokkaido is above all mesmerizing and diverse. What better way to immerse yourself in its way of life than by enjoying a stay in one of the prefecture’s relaxing ryokans. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best Hokkaido ryokans for you to experience!
Like in any other ryokan related article, your traditional kaiseki, yukatas and onsens are referenced here. In case these words are unfamiliar, here is a simple guide.
Kaiseki: Traditional Japanese course meal featuring a wide selection of dishes served individually. Kaiseki dinner is one of the ryokan’s main features which sets it apart from a traditional hotel.
Yukata: Your very own ryokan kimono complete with an obi or belt. Remember, left side goes over the right and the obi is tied around the waist for women and hips for men.
Onsen: A natural hot spring bath usually complete with facilities. Onsen can feature accommodation or simply be bathing facilities.
1. Wakamatsu Hot Spring Resort
A grand destination ryokan located in the popular destination city of Hakodate, Wakamatsu Hot Spring Resort may very well be the best ryokan we’ve had the pleasure of featuring.
This singular Hokkaido destination features one of the only Michelin-star kaiseki ryokans in all of Japan. This means sumptuous dishes that have been innovatively designed by renowned house chef Masaki Takahashi.
Five-star accommodations with exquisite attention to service, anticipates guest’s every want and need. Rustic and refined design features are blended to promote a sense of unbothered luxury which is rare and hard to achieve.
This includes a single piece of Japanese cedar, which is used as a coffee table in the ryokan’s entrance lobby. This elegant and rustic single piece measures over 6 meters by 2 meters in length.
Every design element has been carefully designated and arranged in a way to ensure the upmost visual satisfaction. Exposed wood is muted and adds to a syncretic color palette meant to induce the most sublime sense of meditation and repose. Like in many ryokans, wood features prominently throughout the ryokan’s interior.
Guest suites are designed in an unusual manner uncommon in most ryokans. At Wakamatsu Hot Spring Resort, sleeping areas face towards the framed window which is meant to encapsulate moments in time.
With this goal in mind, the picture frames which are in fact windows, are exquisitely designed through traditional use of carpentry skills. Though this elegant window treatment is not available in all guest suites.
The ryokan proposes a design aesthetic that inspires a new sense of appreciation and sense of visual value. With simple yet extravagant luxury this ryokan is playing in a league of its own and taking no prisoners. All other ryokans, take note.
Book It Here: Wakamatsu Hot Spring Resort
2. Jozankei Daiichi Hotel Suizantei
A few kilometers south of central Sapporo, within the city’s southern mountain region, Jozankei Daiichi Hotel Suizantei offers the opportunity for a quick mountain getaway for travelers on a short stay in Sapporo. The property is located just 5.4 kms from Lake Sapporo and 6 kms from Hokeikyo Dam.
This Hokkaido ryokan’s style is smart and refined, with tasteful touches throughout. The ryokan is accommodated with an expansive lobby, complete with a vast fire place that acts as the center piece of a larger circular stone table.
The enormous circular fireplace and the room’s overall design adds dynamism to the space and welcomes guests to enjoy its relaxing ambiance.
Guestrooms are uncomplicated and graceful. The overall scheme is a traditional Japanese space that is refined, unadorned, conscience and meant for upmost comfort. In addition, the ryokan also includes a relaxation lounge where guests can enjoy a massage.
Ample indoor and outdoor baths welcome guests to intimate yet spacious environments. The Jozankei Daiichi Hotel Suizantei’s many indoor and outdoor hot spring baths are carefully designed to achieve a serene atmosphere.
In addition, private (or kasha-kiri) baths are also available, each with unique views of the surrounding mountain landscape, either through indoor or outdoor tubs.
A semi private-dining room offers dishes made from locally-sourced, fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as seafood which is delivered directly from select fishing ports that specialize in specific catches throughout Japan.
Kosou, the hotel’s gallery, bar and lounge feature singular cocktails as well as sake selected from 15 high quality Hokkaido breweries.
Finally, this well-equipped ryokan also showcases confectionary design and innovation in Sakano Ueno Monaka. The confectionary is redefining Japanese desserts by blending ingredients used in Western style dessert making (such as chocolate and berries), with more traditional Wagashi confectionary design principles.
Book It Here: Jozankei Daiichi Hotel Suizantei
3. Ryokan Ichinomatsu
This property is located 3.5 kms from Hakodate Goryokaku and Park, Hakodate’s famed ninja star-shaped fortress. Ichinomatsu ryokan is also a five-minute walk from Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden, a viewing spot for hot-tubbing monkeys under a glass roof.
Five-star enmities await at this understated Hakodate destination. With a smart sense of utilitarian design this Hokkaido ryokan is a favorite among many international travelers.
The ryokan’s garden courtyard, complete with a koi pond, recently celebrated it 70 years of history. The garden was made and designed by Kyoto garden craftsmen.
Ryokan Ichinomatsu’s Kaiseki specialization is seafood and Japanese dishes served in a variety of styles. Ryokan Ichinomatsu is also a more affordable option that allows for the full ryokan experience, complete with its proud five-star designation.
Book It Here: Ryokan Ichinomatsu
4. Hanabishi Hotel
Hanabishi Hotel offers an ambient, luxurious ryokan stay within the vibrant city of Hakodate, which also serves as the third largest city in the prefecture of Hokkaido.
Japanese-style rooms boast expansive, almost excessive space for lounging and sleeping; its tatami mats invite a lazy afternoon nap whilst the sun filters in through the wide windows. Low traditional Japanese furniture creates the ideal setting for sipping on Japanese tea, whilst the futon bedding will have you reaching for the snooze button – it’s your holiday after all, and beds don’t get any comfier than that!
Western-style rooms offer the same, languid experience, except with western-style bedding, which may be preferred by some people.
There are three different onsen baths to be experienced by guests, as well as a salon where guests can book reflexology massages. Unwind in the sauna room after a full day of exploring. Check out the karaoke facilities if you’re not ready to turn in for the night.
The onsite restaurant must be booked for breakfast and dinner – however, if your booking is inclusive of dinner, prepare for a gastronomical experience full of fresh seafood and authentic Japanese cuisine.
Book It Now: Hanabishi Hotel
5. Furano Shiyuirin
Located in Furano, the town renowned for its expansive fields of colorful flowers including fragrant lavender, is Furano Shiyuirin, a chalet-style ryokan.
Set amid the natural beauty of Daisetsuzan National Park, this secluded Hokkaido ryokan is located in the central plain of the mountain region nearly 1,000 meters above sea level. The famous town of Biei, with its vast landscape scenery and flower fields is also located just 2 km north.
Situated in the geographic center of the island, Furano is a popular destination throughout the year. During spring and summer, the town’s rainbow fields make this one of Hokkaido’s most popular destination ryokans. In winter, Mt. Tokachidake’s Ski Resort, whose peak is located just 3 km from the property, keeps the ryokan busy throughout the season.
Furano Shiyuirin recently underwent a full renovation and reopened in December 2015. The ryokan’s suites are designed like individual apartments complete with full kitchens and separate living room spaces.
The ryokan’s lobby and lounge features atmospheric lighting and simple design which are unadorned yet satisfying. The space is designed to allow you to completely forget the natural reserve outside (as amazing as it might be), and simply enjoy a good book or a chat with friends.
Kaiseki-style dinners are served as a course meal. The ryokan also proudly incorporates local Furano and Biei grown ingredients. Otherwise, Hokkaido ingredients are also sourced throughout the island.
Hors d’oeuvres complete with homegrown vegetables, and soups made entirely from natural ingredients, as well as Hokkaido beef and freshly caught fish all feature prominently on the menu.
The landscape and its natural endowments, be it through the winter snow peaks that gallantly frame the town, or fields filled with flowers in summer, is showcased masterfully at Furano Shiyuirin. This ryokan is truly a fantastic place to witness Hokkaido’s natural spirit so vividly on display!
Book It Here: Furano Shiyuirin
6. Tokachigawa Moor Onsen Seijyakubow
Experience world-class service and hospitality at the five-star Tokachigawa Moor Onsen Seijyakubow, a Ryokan resort nestled in the greenery of Otofuke, Hokkaido.
This astonishing ryokan looks and feels like something out of a movie, with a well-thought-out exterior structure that blends in harmony with the surrounding nature, and an interior design that will take your breath away.
Tokachikawa Moor Onsen Seijyakubow offers ample areas to lounge and relax in, including a common area and garden – that is, if you can peel yourself away from your gorgeous guest rooms, which are generously sized, and offer western-style bedding, and the stunning private bathrooms are all well-equipped.
The location of this ryokan is amazing – it’s situated in a geothermal area, so you will be able to easily access several hot springs nearby.
Guests Tips: All skincare is provided in the bathrooms, so make sure you use them! During winter months, there will be heavy rainfall, so communicating such things as dietary requirements in advance would be ideal.
Book It Now: Tokachigawa Moor Onsen Seijyakubow
Everyone wants to know, just what exactly makes Hokkaido so attractive and captivating to wishful, would-be visitors. Is it something in the water? Something which inevitably seeps into the beer and is drank worldwide? Is it its vast untamed wilderness and painstakingly designed landscapes which exist side by side?
Or is it something else, something intangible, something which makes Hokkaido simply, magical! We are betting on the latter (although their does seem to be a higher concentration of natural lithium, known to induce calming and pacifying effects, in its water!).
To find out for yourself and your loved ones, get in on the secret and experience all which Hokkaido has to offer by staying in one or many of its outstanding ryokans!
And if you are looking for Japanese inns in other areas, make sure you check our Ryokan Collection.