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10 Best Unique Hotels in Japan

Article | April 17th, 2021 | Lukas Leiffer
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Unique is perhaps the best word that describes Japan. The once isolate land has nurtured a culture like no other country in the world. The distinct mindset and way of life among the citizens of Japan is a blend of tradition and technology, making it the perfect place to visit if you want to experience the wisdom of the East mixed with the sensibility of the West. If you get the chance, be sure to check out these unique hotels in Japan on your next visit to truly experience what Japan has to offer.


1. HENN NA HOTEL (HUIS TEN BOSCH)

You’ll likely remember Nagasaki as one of the atomic bombing sites during World War 2, but since then, the city was rebuilt and gained international status. But, did you know that you can find Europe there as well? If you visit the Huis ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo prefecture, you’ll find a place that showcases European cityscapes.

Other than the park rides, canals, and scenery, one of its most innovative attractions comes in the form of the Henn Na Hotel, which literally translates to strange or weird hotel. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary hotel; however, once you go to check-in, you’ll be greeted by a dinosaur robot! This is just one of the many robots that help guests with their stay at the hotel. They carry luggage, put your belongings in a cloakroom, and even act as a personal assistant in your room. There are plenty of vending machines present in each wing of the hotel, where guests can get their favorite snacks and dine in the common area or their rooms.

Henn Na hotel aspires to be the most efficient and progressive hotel in the world, highlighting the future of hospitality. Currently, they’re experimenting with a drone delivery system that can transport food to guests from nearby restaurants.


2. ASO FARM LAND (ASO)

Living a healthy life holds great significance in Japanese culture. So much so that you can make a hotel out of it. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the South of Aso, in the Kumamoto prefecture. Nestled within nature, looking like nothing short of the Shire from the Lord of the Rings, is Aso Farm Land. A hotel with the aim of promoting the mental and physical health of its guests. The distinct dome-shaped rooms of this hotel provide guests with spacious accommodation.

Health experts supervise the park and facilitate guests with access to amenities like spas, hot springs, exercise routines, sports etc. Perhaps its most attractive feature is that meals are prepared with fresh, locally grown food, providing guests with three meals a day and keeping their health in check to the fullest. At night, the place lights up and showcases the most majestic views of the galaxy in the Aso sky.

Aso Farm Land


3. HOTEL CYCLE (ONOMICHI)

Located in the Hiroshima prefecture in the city of Onomichi, exists a very distinctive hotel that satisfies a very specific niche, a hotel catering to cyclists. Though non-cyclists can also find a place to stay here, cyclists enjoy the benefit of having a place to stay while they’re on the move. Guests can check-in while on their bikes and take them to their rooms and hook them on wall mounts during their stay. Additionally, the hotel offers a repair shop and holding services if you want to transport your bike elsewhere.

The city of Onomichi and its surroundings are nothing short of a cyclist paradise. The best way to experience it is by waking up at sunrise to a breathtaking view of the inland sea and the islands nearby. If you stay at the cycle hotel, you can simply use your bike to visit the many temples, parks, and gardens in the city and return to your hotel by nightfall. You can even rent or buy a cycle from the hotel’s store if you don’t have one.


4. FIRST CABIN (HANEDA TERMINAL 1)

If you’re a frequent flyer, then you must know about the problems that come with it, like jetlag, connecting flights, and finding accommodation. If you ever find yourself in Haneda, Tokyo, then you don’t have to worry about these problems as First Cabin Hotel at Haneda Airport is there for you. This hotel is especially convenient for people looking for accommodation close to the airport and those who want to experience a night in a Japanese capsule hotel.

The hotel has two sections, one for males and the other for females, requiring card access to enter. You can either choose to stay in a standard capsule or a business class one that offers a single bed with a TV and allows you to keep your luggage with you in your room if you’re concerned about losing your luggage. Additional amenities include a luggage holding facility, lounge area for dining where you’ll also find massage chairs for relaxation, coin laundry service, and a shower area with plenty of facilities.


5. MONGOLIA VILLAGE TENGER (NASU)

Previously we saw a bit of Europe in Japan, now get ready to experience a lesser-known part of Asia in Japan, Mongolia. The hotel lets guest experience the lifestyle of Mongolian nomads in tents called gels. Located just outside of Nasu in the Tochigi prefecture, it is a serene place that allows you to gain a feeling of peace and tranquility. From the outside, the tents look like they’re not much, but the inside opens up to spacious Mongolian accommodation, complete with traditional furniture and modern amenities like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and a refrigerator.

The tents don’t contain any baths; instead, the facility has open-bath facilities fed by hot springs 800m underground. Guests can enjoy a variety of baths include rock and cypress baths, that help them relax and unwind while gazing at the starry sky.

Mongolia Village Tenger


6. MAWAKI POLE POLE (ANAMIZU)

Near the Mawaki ruins in Noto, Japan, you’ll come across a hill with a meandering road leading to a sleek and modern hotel in the shape of a pithouse. The hotel has a unique design that blends with the curves of the hill, giving extraordinary views of the beautiful green countryside while taking in the soft light that reflects off of the Sea of Japan.

The hotel provides comfortable accommodation for travelers with a modern and curvy interior, complete with facilities like a television, mini-fridge, and even espresso machines for making hot beverages. Other than amenities, the living space includes a sofa for lounging and a desk for working. You can even enjoy exquisite cuisines at their chic restaurant.

With only 11 guest rooms, the hotel is quite exclusive. Guests come here to relax and unwind from their daily routines to experience a quiet and peaceful time.


7. SANBU RANCH (OBIHIRO)

Staying at Sanbu Ranch Shikaoi Town, Hokkaido, is one of the most unique experiences you can enjoy in Japan. The area has a rich history of farming and raising cattle, but it wasn’t until the late 2000s that the hotel started its operations as an accommodation that enables guests to experience a farming lifestyle, including making butter, milking a cow, a tour of the ranch, and cooking pizza in a stone oven.

The place is surrounded by natural wonders that change with the seasons, allowing the management to host various “experience menus” that incorporate many activities intertwined with nature. These include hiking on beautiful flower-laden tracks in springtime, canoeing on Lake Shikaribetsu or going for a hike in the surrounding forest, and relaxing in an old-fashioned Goemon Bath in the winters.

Perhaps the best part about staying here is the accommodation. Guests get to stay in tree houses that are elevated from the ground and can house up to 6 people. These houses are shaped like a hexagon with windows on each side, showing a beautiful view of the surrounding nature.


8. HEIKE NO SHO (YUNISHIKAWA ONSEN)

If you want a more traditional experience on your visit to Japan, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, then look no further than Heike no Sho. Located in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Yunishigawa Onsen, a small hot spring town, is home to this 300-year-old hotel.

The hotel showcases a rich history grounded in the samurai way of life. During the course of its life, the hotel was rebuilt and relocated as an old folk-house style inn with a nostalgic theme reminiscent of feudal Japan.

Since then, it has served as a home for renowned foreign guests and even members of the royal family and gained recognition in various magazines and hotel rankings. As you enter the hotel, you experience a mix of ancient Japanese culture with modern facilities that give it a traditional yet contemporary style.

The rooms also exude a similar Japanese style, equipped with traditional tatami floor mats, futon bedding, and brick walls with a hearth to warm food and keep warm. The lighting and ambiance add to the hotel’s traditional appeal without sacrificing modern facilities.

Guests can enjoy a relaxing bath in nearby hot springs and experience the hearth-style dining complete with a fireplace and a Kamado to enjoy the delicious local cuisine.


9. MADOU ONSEN RYOFUSO (MIE)

In the rural areas of Tsu city, Mie lies Madou Onsen Ryofuso. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary hotel built around a hot spring and surrounded by the countryside, but on the inside, you can see a cozy rustic atmosphere that takes you back to the Showa era. The rooms feature traditional-style rooms with tatami mats and windows that open up to the Satoyama forest, an ideal place to lounge and relax.

The hotel boasts a large banquet hall with a capacity of 120 people that is normally used for banquet dinners and meetings. If you’re looking for a smaller and quiet area to dine in, the hotel also has a separate restaurant where you can eat local cuisine like the Tsu Gyoza. Additional amenities include a Karaoke room, café corner, and coin laundry service.

Perhaps its most prized attraction is the Onsen itself. It is fed by three sources of Tsu no Yu. The Shin Misato Onsen and the Hakusan Onsen feed a large communal bath made with lava stone from Mount Fuji. You can experience forest bathing here due to a large number of surrounding plants present. Separate facilities for men and women are available as well.

But what makes this place come under the unique hotels in Japan? Other than the Showa Era theme, the hotel showcases a cave bath, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The caves have a rich history during the Edo period as a haven for pirates to enjoy the spoils of their exploits and during wartime as an underground industrial hub. The cave now acts as an attraction for the hotel, complete with lodging, a bathing facility, and an eating area.


10. YAMAMOTOGOYA FURUSAKOKAN (NAGANO)

At the summit of Utsukushigahara Kogen, Nagaea, at an altitude of 2000m, you’ll find Yamamotogoya Furusatokan. It’s easily accessible by free bus service, with guests flocking in to enjoy a peaceful night out under the starry sky.

Considering its location, guests get to experience a superb view of the surrounding mountain range with breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, Yatsugatake, and the Southern, Central, and Northern Alps. From here, guests can enjoy early morning tours of the surrounding national park, witness clouds as they float on top of the mountains, as well as nightly tours for splendid astronomical views where you can even observe the moon and Saturn when the night is clear. All tours are free of charge, making guests cherish and enjoy their experience a whole lot more.

In their rooms, guests will find traditional yukata robes and are allowed to borrow amenities like humidifiers at no extra cost. Other than that, the hotel has a communal bath facility and concierge service for the guests.


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