During my latest trip across Japan, I found myself drawn to the tranquil countryside of Niigata Prefecture. This time, my travels took me to Rankeisou, a traditional ryokan renowned for its enchanting ambiance.
My journey to Rankeisou began with an ever amazing Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Tsubame Sanjo Station. At the station, I explored a local museum, immersing myself in the town’s renowned craftsmanship and their excellent cutlery, and gathering unique souvenirs.
The shuttle ride to Rankeisou was a scenic introduction to Niigata’s mountainous beauty, leading to a fairy tale-like valley where the ryokan awaited. Upon arrival, the staff’s hospitality was immediately evident. They greeted us with respectful bows, embodying the warmth and meticulous attention that Japan is famous for.
A quick introduction followed where we got all our questions answered. This warm reception set a welcoming tone for our stay, highlighting the exceptional hospitality that makes visits to places like Rankeisou truly memorable.
Rankeisou stands as a seamless blend of history and nature, transcending the typical hotel experience. More akin to a charming manor, its main building, over a century old, whispers stories of a bygone era. The ryokan, with its traditional architecture and aged wood, merges harmoniously with the natural surroundings, creating a sense of timelessness.
Nestled in a secluded river valley, Rankeisou is enveloped by a canopy of trees, radiant in their full autumnal bloom. The ryokan’s setting, far removed from the bustle of city life, offers guests a unique opportunity to connect with the natural beauty of Japan’s countryside.It makes you feel like you are in a fairy tale.
After a short introduction with the ryokan’s layout, we were escorted to our room. Spacious and elegantly simple, the room offered a view of the gently flowing river nearby. The simple yet inviting style included tatami mats and futons for sleeping, a classic feature that I personally enjoy.
On arrival, we were welcomed with a serving of traditional tea and snacks. This warm gesture made us feel at ease and was a nice touch of Japanese culture. The room also had a practical bathroom with all the necessary amenities. This blend of traditional style and essential comforts made our stay enjoyable and relaxing, showcasing the ryokan’s thoughtful hospitality.
The baths are distinct, filled with salt-rich water, a rarity that adds to their charm. The temperature is carefully maintained – warm enough to be soothing, especially on a chilly day, but not excessively hot.
This perfect balance made the bathing experience both rejuvenating and relaxing. Immersing in these waters, believed to be healthy, under the open sky was a moment of tranquility and a highlight of my stay. After spending some time unwinding in the bath, I felt refreshed and ready to enjoy the evening’s dinner.
The evening continued at the ryokan’s bar, where I had the opportunity to meet the owners. This couple has lovingly cared for Rankeisou for many years. Sharing sake and engaging in conversation with them provided a unique glimpse into the ryokan’s history and the local culture.
Exploring the local area around Rankeisou revealed the rich craftsmanship of Tsubame Sanjo. Two highlights stood out: the global headquarters of Snowpeak, showcasing innovative outdoor lifestyle products, and the factory museum of Suwada, known for its high-quality nail clippers.
These visits were a testament to the exceptional skill and meticulous craftsmanship of the local artisans, further highlighting the region’s dedication to quality and tradition.
In conclusion, my stay at Rankeisou was a remarkable blend of serene natural beauty, authentic Japanese hospitality, and culinary excellence. The ryokan’s tranquil setting, traditional comforts, and amazing hot baths made it a uniquely memorable experience. So if you are looking for a place to take a break from sightseeing, Rankeisou in Niigata Prefecture is your place!