We chose to stay at Jinpyokaku Ryokan as it was just a few minutes walk to the Jigokudani Monkey Park trailhead. Although our main motivation in visiting the area was to view the famous Japanese snow monkeys, this Japanese style ryokan turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
Jinpyokaku is located in Kambayashi Onsen. It is a great place for anyone planning to visit the Japanese snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park- it is one of the closest ryokan to the park.
There is not much in the immediate vicinity. For food and snack, your options are one street vending machine and one restaurant, Enza Café.
Pickup and Check in
Jinpyokaku is a 10-15 drive from the Yudanaka train station. Pickup and drop off is included in the room rate so a driver was waiting for us at the train station. We asked him if it would be possible to stop at a nearby convenience store to stock up on some supplies and he happily obliged. Although we didn’t really need it, we thought it was a nice gesture that he kept pulling out a step stool to help us in and out of the van.
When we arrived to the ryokan, our host was waiting outside to greet us. She took us straight to our room instead of reception for check-in and invited us to sit at a low table. We were not asked for a credit card as payment would be collected at the end.
Our host served tea and Japanese sweets while giving us a mini orientation. She explained to us the proper way to wear a yukata (Japanese cotton robe) and arranged a time to return and escort us to dinner.
Our room was a Japanese style room. The beds were futon bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor.
Although they called it a room, our accommodations were more like an apartment.
There is an unheated entryway as soon as you enter. We were instructed to leave our shoes in this hallway and wear slippers for the rest of our stay.
From the hallway, there are two doors: one for the living and sleeping rooms and one for the bathroom.
The bathroom was divided into three smaller rooms: one for the sink, one for the toilet and one for our own private onsen.
Several toiletries and a hairdryer were provided in the bathroom area.
In addition to our private in-room onsen (see photo below), the ryokan offered public single and mixed gender baths.
The front room in the living quarters seemed to be more of a “get ready” room. It contained yukatas, jackets, socks, another hairdryer and a mirror.
There was a large closet to store the futons when not in use.
A sliding door led to the main room. The main room is used for sleeping, sitting or watching TV.
The low tables and chairs were surprisingly comfortable. A heater is hidden under the table to keep legs toasty.
Futons are set up on the floor for sleeping. The host really thought of everything- even a hot water bottle was tucked in the covers.
The staff sneaks in to set up the futons when guests are at dinner and stores them in the closet during breakfast. So, if anyone likes to nap between breakfast and dinner, you probably need to make a special request.
Even though the ryokan was very traditional, the room included modern amenities: a flat-screen TV, refrigerator and free wi-fi.
Postcards, dvds and a manual about etiquette were handy.
As in most ryokans, breakfast and dinner were included in the room rate. Both meals were served in our own private dining room located in a separate building.
Our host met us at our room the first day to escort us to the building and to take a photo of us in our yukata.
After each meal, we would arrange the time for our next meal. Staff would call 5 minutes before the time as a reminder.
Meals were Kaiseki ryori. The delicious (really delicious) homemade food was prepared with fresh seasonal and local ingredients.
Ambience and Service
The snow-covered grounds of the ryokan were beautiful.
Guests must walk between buildings to get from the room to anywhere else, including the public onsens and dining rooms. The yukata and jacket were not warm enough for the outdoors but fortunately everything was just a minute away.
There were only six rooms so the ryokan felt very private. We read in online reviews that most guests are Japanese- that seemed to be the case during our stay.
The staff spoke enough English to communicate with us. They were really warm, attentive and discreet- the ideal mix between privacy and great service.
When it was time to check out they presented us with parting gifts: photos of us in yukatas from the first night and souvenir keychains.
Our stay at Jinpyokaku was one of the highlights of this trip- we were sad to leave. This ryokan was in a great location to visit the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park, the service was impeccable and the surrounding area beautiful. Great place for a luxurious retreat.
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Index (rest of series):
Brunei, Singapore and Japan: Planning and Booking
Review: United Global First Lounge – Chicago O’Hare
Review: United Global First, ORD – NRT
Review: United Global First Lounge – Tokyo Narita
Review: United Global First, NRT – SIN
Review: Singapore Airlines Economy Class, SIN – BWN
Review: Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam (Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei)
Things To Do In Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Review: Royal Brunei Airlines Sky Lounge – Brunei International Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class, BWN – SIN
Eating Like a Local in Singapore
Review: Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road, Singapore
Thaipusam In Singapore: Piercings and Hooks and Skewers, Oh My!
Review: Singapore Airlines The Private Room…You Weren’t Very Private
Review: Singapore Airlines Suites, SIN – PVG…Slumber Party In The Sky
Review: Air China Business Class Lounge – Shanghai Pudong
Flight Review: ANA, All Nippon Airways – Business Class, PVG -NRT
Visiting the Snow Monkeys of Japan
Jinpyokaku Ryokan (Kambayashi Onsen, Japan) (this post)
Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge – Tokyo Narita
Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class Lounge – Tokyo Narita
American Airlines AAdmirals Club Lounge – Tokyo Narita
American Airlines First Class, NRT – ORD
How much were the room rates? Is there anyplace (in-room or in public areas) for a long-legged 70 year-old Western man to sit? (ie not the floor.)
Room rates vary depending on the room. For a room with a private onsen (not all rooms have one) rates can be as high as $200-$300. Breakfast, dinner and pickup from nearest train station are included in the rate. We noticed it is cheapest to book directly off their website.
As far as seating, there was a small table with two “regular” chairs in the room. The dining room seats were also regular chairs.
Very nice article. How refreshing to read something of value that’s not about miles and points. This and the related article about the snow monkeys are awesome! The beautiful pictures helped a lot.
I just came back from Japan (more north than where you went). I also had an opportunity to stay at a ryokan; although where I stayed were not advertising to foreigners (gaijin). We just happened to have been accompanied by a Japanese travel company manager who we’ve known for quite a while. Essentially nothing in that place was in English and no one spoke English. Nevertheless, the people were very nice and welcoming.
My (old) parents took the only western room (it had a real bed). But me and my brother had the tatami rooms. We did try to sleep directly on the tatami floors and they were actually comfortable. The only thing that felt too different for me was the public baths for men and women (separate). They were onsens on the side of the mountain. Nice view but not private.
That was the day I missed my shower 🙂
I wonder what made you decide to stay at a ryokan?
Ha ha, public baths are a unique experience:) We decided to stay at a ryokan for the experience but also for the great location near the snow monkeys.
Sounds like you and your family though had quite the authentic stay! It would probably be tough for someone older to sleep on the floor or even sit on the low chairs all the time- good thing your parents had access to a regular bed so it was fun and comfortable for everyone.
Also, thank you for the very nice compliment!
Thanks for the information in this post. I’m planning a trip to Japan and still not sure where to go, but this looks like a pretty cool ryokan to stay at.
A couple of things about communicating in Japan.
1 – Japanese English language education tends to be very heavy on written English and not very good at spoken English. If you’re having trouble, try typing what you’re saying on a smartphone and show the person your screen.
2 – Despite being written in a manner wholly foreign to western eyes, Japanese really isn’t a terribly difficult language to speak. It’s very structured and, making it even easier are the huge number of words borrowed from English. Learn just a bit of Japanese and people will be both impressed and eager to help.