Ryokan Hiroshima – Rising from the ashes like a phoenix taking shape and blazing a path towards the future, Hiroshima is a city with an unbeatable spirit.
Located on a set of flat, lying islands and peninsulas formed by the delta of the Ota River, Hiroshima is an attractive city of bridges, parks and large avenues (unlike most of Japanese cities, consisting of small streets and winding alley ways). Today, Hiroshima zooms into the feature as a business and commercial capital of Japan’s Chugoku region, and the home of international renowned brands including Mazda. Visitors come from the four corners of the world to visit its Atom Bomb Dome and the city’s Peace Park, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
But those who venture past the city’s infamous landmarks into the city proper or its scenic surroundings, are rewarded with unique cultural heritage and treasures that spark the imagination. Hiroshima is a natural haven within western Japan’s Inland Sea and its many scenic and unspoiled islands, coves and beaches. The city’s larger metropolitan area and prefecture extend into a wilderness of calm and relaxation from the mountains to the sea.
Natural getaways include pristine islands that are worlds away from Japan’s famed urban environments, each emanating their own unique ki or spirit. Just a short ferry ride away, Itsukushima Shrine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Shrine on the island of the same name. The Shrine is located on a tidal basin meaning it is often set in the bay itself. You’d probably recognize its famed Torii gate, often surrounded in water, from postcards or Instagram pics.
Originally, the shrine was meant to appear to float on the water as you entered the bay through the Torii gate, a scene which took on a magical significance when the shrine was illuminated by lanterns under the moonlight. Whether under the moonlight or during a day trip by ferry, the temple’s iconic scenery will inspire dreams and a sense of awe and wonder. Itsukushima itself is a sacred island where only priests and nobles could once visit. Its shrine was meant to inspire humbleness by contemplating the fleeting nature of life. Today, anyone can visit, making it a popular destination that still manages to fly under the radar.
In order to get in the mood and mindset of the temple, and to experience Hiroshima as a whole, a stay in one of its serene ryokan locations is simply a must. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best Hiroshima ryokans for you to discover!
By the way, if you are unfamiliar with some terms, make sure to read this article first: What is a Ryokan.
Ryokan Hiroshima #1 – Iwaso
Iwaso is set in a historic complex built in a traditional Japanese style. Supreme elegance is achieved through the ‘Hanare’ style of design elements. This entails wooden one-storied villas in a traditional Japanese architectural style built in the early 1900s, complete with wraparound balconies and views which overlook the surrounding landscape.
The wild deer that roam the grounds of this one-of-a-kind ryokan add a sense of magic and grace with their enchanting presence. Guest suites are all unique; the complex grounds are set in three main buildings and four unique villas, each with a singular style. With 39 rooms able to accommodate 100 guests, Iwaso is also larger than your traditional ryokan.
The ryokan’s hot spring is set amid the island’s forested backdrop, with an semi open-air view. Iwaso’s hot spring onsen takes top spot among the hotel’s perks and enmities. The onsen’s design, from the soothing color palettes which work to enhance the greenery outside, to the turquoise tint of the warm water (due to the blue stone used on the bath’s flooring), work seamlessly to promote a tranquil and meditative experience. Rustic and luxurious, the hot spring bath is truly an oasis of relaxation. The island’s deer, who roam the property freely, might very well walk across the open-air bath while bathing.
Through its singular location and architecture, this is the island’s quintessential historic Hiroshima ryokan and a only-in-Japan experience.
Ryokan Hiroshima #2 – Miyajima Seaside Hotel
While the ‘hotel’ in the name might make you question why we’ve included the Miyajima Seaside on a list of the best ryokan in Hiroshima. The Miyajima Seaside Hotel is not a hotel aside from the building structure which appears more like a high-rise in a traditional Japanese style.
Located on sacred Itsukushima island, only a 5-minute drive from the Miyajima Ferry Port terminal. The ryokan is situated on its very own beach site, surrounded by a lush green forest which makes it the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing retreat. While you stroll among the hotel’s private grounds and venture towards the beach, wild deer might cross your path as they tend to wander the property from time to time.
When it comes to accommodation, Miyajima Seaside Hotel features traditional Shōji paper sliding doors in Japanese-style rooms complete with tatami floors and Japanese-style bedding. Each room is endowed with a private terrace which offers meditative views out towards the sea and Hiroshima bay, or the hillside greenery, through floor to ceiling glass windows.
While guests enjoy the location and privacy, they also rave about the kaiseki meals offered in guest bedrooms. Enjoy a tantalizing menu of fresh seafood, world-renowned beef cuts grilled in a hibachi, and a delectable dessert menu from the comfort of your own guestroom. After a soak in the ryokan’s private hot spring bath, enjoy an evening on the beach or venture to the other side of the island to enjoy sunset views of Itsukushima Shrine.
Finally, the fact that the ryokan is set in a hotel-style, mid-high-rise allows it to offer ryokan-style accommodations for a more affordable price. With excellent service and top reviews, the Miyajima Seaside is one of the best ryokan-style accommodations in everything but the hotel in its name!
Japanese Traditional Inn Hiroshima #3 – Migiwatei Ochi Kochi
Located in the scenic seaside village of Tomonoura, on a scenic peninsula within Hiroshima prefecture just west of the city of Fukuyama, is Migiwatei Ochi Kochi.
This stylish Hiroshima ryokan isn’t your mom and pop ryokan. Elegantly aspiring as a hip, new boutique hotel, Migiwatei Ochi Kochi takes a fresh modern take on traditional Japanese inns. The ryokan offers an immaculate and avant-garde take on the traditional ryokan which is perfectly suited for design conscious travelers.
Vibrant and energetic design elements work in tandem to produce a visual dynamism that is smart and outstanding. A muted palette accentuates the elegant wood finishes through diffused lighting and rich textures. Every piece of furniture has been selectively chosen from master Japanese craftsmen. Hot spring baths in each terrace invite guests to enjoy views across the sea to Benten Island and its picturesque Shrine located just 200m away. Across the bay, its hilltop shrine is framed by the windows and balconies of the ryokan in a manner which induces a meditative, reflective, and above all, relaxing experience.
This Hiroshima ryokan is also the perfect way to explore the nearly untouched natural beauty of Sensui Island, located outwards just 500 meters from the ryokan’s beachfront location and easily accessible by kayak or small catamaran. In between, a stop at Benten Island and its Torii gate might be well-deserved.
For those design aficionados searching for that one place that offers a smart new take on the ryokan style, this superb Hiroshima ryokan will make even your wildest design wishes come true!
Ryokan Hiroshima #4 – Kurayado Iroha
Karayado Iroha features world-class service and smart, elegant design which makes this Hiroshima ryokan one of the top-rated and the only 5-star, ryokan-style accommodations in the prefecture. Karuyado Iroha is also located on Itsukushima Island, less than a 5-minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine.
The ryokan’s design is chic and uncomplicated, alluding to the best elements of 1960s minimal elegance and sophistication. Parquet, checkered flooring in oak and maple are sumptuously dressed in a hardwood finish that adds to the warmth and inviting atmosphere.
Guest suites utilize elegant materials for the upmost quality. Accessible elegance is achieved in an unadorned way that highlights the exceptional value of materials and design. From each room, windows are complete with Shōji sliding windows which reveal views of the Inland Sea’s staggering beauty.
The ryokan’s open-air onsen features mystifying views of the seas and mountains, which allow for truly captivating sunset or sunrise views towards the Otorii Shrine Gate (all while basking with a gentle mineral soak!). Kurayado Iroha is a romantic favorite among couples, due to its graceful and seamless blend of quality and style.
TOP Pick! – Hatago Sakura
Hatago Sakura is the philosopher’s ryokan through its carefully-curated and designed contemplative elements. In fact, the ryokan has served as the sleeping grounds for modern Japanese writers and aspiring poets. This unique Hiroshima ryokan is also exceptionally reviewed and the top-rated ryokan in Hiroshima prefecture, with a nearly perfect review score of 9.7/10!
Originally redesigned in the 1960s, you’ll have plenty of room to think with the vast open ceilings, featuring 20ft. elevations in guestrooms. Private onsen with views towards the garden also feature prominently in each guestroom. Rooms themselves highlight a muted palette that accentuates the ryokan’s architecture, particularly the large airy spaces. While the architecture is unadorned, nature takes the place of decorations.
The singular Japanese garden boats staggering views outwards towards the sea, as well as the mountains on the other side of the bay. The garden itself, is less like the common, tended natural oasis of Japanese tradition. Its unique elements are characteristic of a philosophical expression of Japanese beauty. This means natural elements give way to meditative gravel and stone; small pagodas and potted Japanese Maples invigorate the spaces with a meditative presence. The ryokan itself is set amid a garden that blends indoor spaces with the natural outdoors, a feature that is usually uncommon in Japanese design.
At Hatago Sakura, the architecture brings the outside in. Guests can enjoy the rejuvenating qualities of communing with nature through the architectural prism the ryokan provides! Although freer than the traditional Japanese garden, the outside ‘nature’ garden is not intended to be a real scene; but instead just an interpretation that allows contemplation of what nature represents. This time in a much less refined and curated manner, unlike the traditional Japanese gardens common in most ryokan.
This is particularly true in the semi-outdoor hot spring baths, set next to the garden. Through a cut-out window located directly at eye level while one is bathing, the green of a single tree, which has been specifically planted, encourages one to meditate on nature.
With all the thinking, you’re bound to get hungry. Hatago Sakura’s traditional Japanese breakfast and kaiseki meals offer sumptuous Japanese and French-inspired dishes that highlight the best in Japanese haute-cuisine. If simpler fair is more your style, Japanese omu-raisu or omelet over rice served with ketchup, as well as other Yoshoku (simple and scrumptious Japanese takes on Western dishes) are also on the menu. For an intellectual retreat that is inspiring and rejuvenating, Hatago Sakura offers guests a unique vision in Japanese design, architecture, philosophy and, better yet, relaxation!
As a vibrant, cultural metropolis surrounded by a unique natural landscape that has been venerated for millennia, Hiroshima is much more than its peace park or infamous dome. The city’s geographic richness amid the picturesque Inland Sea, welcomes and rewards exploration. A taste of its stirring and atmospheric energy, fills visitors with a sense of awe and wonder. Through this wealth, Hiroshima and the surrounding natural environment of unspoiled landscapes offer travel experiences which are exceedingly poised, elegant and refined.
The city and its natural attributes reminds us that with a renewed sense of spirit, anything is possible. Hiroshima has many lessons to teach the world, one of them is to simply relax and enjoy the peaceful scenery and environment; after all, time is only but a fleeting memory.