Rufus Starbuck

Ryugon Ryokan, Muikamachi

Vintage ryokan in the classic style

Rufus Starbuck
Rufus Starbuck   - 3 min read

Ryugon is a truly classical ryokan. As you head through their gate you feel as if you step back in time. The oldest parts of the building are 250 years old. It is an old single story farmer's house that has been added to over the years.

The courtyard has a small firepit to warm up the weary travelor with the relaxing sound of running water coming from a nearby water feature. Head up the stone steps into the entrance hall and everything is dark wood with a huge paper lantern hanging above you. Your hostess in a kimono guides you to a sitting room with cushions around a Japanese fireplace set into the tatami. A cup of warming tea and a snack soon materialize. Let the pampering begin.

The stroll to your room is impressive. Dark wood corridors with wooden floors stretch away in different directions. It looks old but elegantly so. There are large gardens outside and many of the corridors have large windows looking out onto the ponds and the mountains behind. It is all very soothing.

The rooms were designed before squeezing more rooms into a hotel became standard. They are vast tatami affairs with high ceilings, though even on a chilly autumn night were toasty warm. Our room had a kotatsu laid out and a separate sitting area with views of the garden. A huge piece of calligraphy dominated one wall. The fixtures and fittings were from a different time but all worked and were charming nonetheless. I had a glimpse of a suite through an open door and it looked bigger than most apartments I have been in.

I was banned from taking photos and exclaiming how wonderful everything was shortly after arriving in the room. Suffice it to say that both the indoor and outdoor onsen were wonderful. The outdoor one was the setting for a famous beer commercial with shots on the wall to prove it. Dinner was a multi-course feast with mini works of art on each plate. The futons were the thickest I've ever slept on. Breakfast was equally good and check-out time seemed to come around far to quickly for my liking.

I am a big fan. Ryugon is one of the most distinguished ryokans in the region and rightly so. Staying here is a treat. Even just walking around the facilities are an worthwhile experience. It is that good.

Rufus Starbuck

Rufus Starbuck @rufus.starbuck

Hanging out in the mountains of Niigata. Arrived by accident and yet to leave. Seem to spend far too much time eating...