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Excellent Local Food and Sake! 3 Hot Spring Hotels in Yamagata

Excellent Local Food and Sake! 3 Hot Spring Hotels in Yamagata

Translated by Ken

Written by MATCHA-PR

Yamagata 2020.12.17 Bookmark

If you're looking to soak in hot springs and savor delicious local food, Yamagata is the place to go. This article introduces three famous hot spring resorts in this nature-rich region. Enjoy fresh seafood and sake in stylishly designed Japanese inns!

Yamagata: Famous for Unique Hot Springs

If you love onsen (hot-spring baths), then Yamagata is a must-visit destination. There are plenty of hot spring resorts to enjoy, in locales with retro streetscapes and enchanting snowy scenery such as Ginzan Onsen or with adjacent grape farms like Kaminoyama Onsen.

This article will feature three onsen resorts with unique hot-springs and accommodations.

1. Hotel Morinone: A Relaxing Resort Surrounded by Serene Nature

Hotel Morinone

In 2016, Koyo Group, a local ryokan operator, unveiled its new lodging facility: Hotel Morinone. This cozy onsen resort is located in the forests of Kaminoyama Onsen.

The minimal yet stylish rooms and the resort's serene atmosphere have attracted a younger clientele right from the start.

Hotel Morinone

The hotel has a total of 14 guest rooms. Each is furnished with tatami flooring, floor beds, and an interior showcasing modern Japanese design.

The large window opens up to beautiful natural scenery. If you listen closely, you can hear birds and insects chirping among the trees.

Hotel Morinone

Picture courtesy of Hotel Morinone

The hotel has two large hot spring baths. Written with the kanji character for "sun," the "Hi" bath is ideal for daytime bathing as the sunlight shines through the trees. Meanwhile, the "Tsuki" ("moon" in Japanese) bath is great for star gazing at night.

For those who'd like to soak in an open-air bath, we recommend Tsuki. Additionally, Hi is equipped with a nano-mist sauna to help guests fully relax.

*At the time this article was written in 2020, the nano-mist sauna was temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

Hotel Morinone

Picture courtesy of Hotel Morinone

You can savor high-quality dishes made with Yamagata beef and Yonezawa beef at Hotel Morinone. Renowned for their soft texture, both types of wagyu (Japanese beef) strike the perfect balance of lean meat and fat content. You'll also find seasonal dishes of venison, duck, and other wild game. Cooked in an earthenware pot, the rice served here is a local brand called Tsuyahime.

Hotel Morinone

Picture courtesy of Hotel Morinone

Every year around mid-April, the cherry blossom trees near the lodging facility go into bloom. Not surprisingly, this annual attraction draws large numbers of guests to the hotel. You can sip a glass of local wine while enjoying this seasonal view in spring. They boast a selection of seven Yamagata-produced brands of wine!

The dishes are both delicious and beautifully arranged. The artistic presentation of the in-house cuisine looks almost too good to eat.

Hotel Morinone

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2. Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse: Marvel at a Sprawling Rice Field

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse

Located in northwestern Yamagata, the Shonai Plain is a fertile region thanks to snow melt flowing from the Dewa Sanzan mountains (*1). Specifically, the land is used to grow rice.

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse is located in the city of Tsuruoka. Opened in 2018, this popular onsen resort is known for its eye-catching architecture. In fact, the lodging facility is designed to look like a spaceship floating above a rice field. The exterior alone has attracted visitors who come just to take pictures.

*1: Dewa Sanzan refers to three mountains in Yamagata: Mount Gassan, Mount Haguro, and Mount Yudono.

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse

The hotel resort was designed by Shigeru Ban, a renowned Japanese architect who was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

To give the impression that the building is floating, the spacious lobby was elevated to the second floor. Excluding the core foundation of the building, most of the hotel was constructed from wood to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse

Picture courtesy of Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse
There are a total of 119 guest rooms. The most popular is the Double Room with Terrace & View, which has a panoramic view of the rice field outside. With no obstructions, this stunning vista is expansive and opens up the room.

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse

The natural hot spring bath is located in a dome-shaped bathhouse. The pink-tiled indoor women's bath is in the center of the building. The men's bath, which has indoor and outdoor facilities, is designed with blue tiles and surrounds the women's bath.

In August 2020, an open-air bath was built for female guests. Depending on the time of day, you can soak while gazing at the sky or the stars!

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse

Picture courtesy of Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse
The dishes served here use fresh vegetables grown in the hotel farm, as well as locally-raised livestock, including Yamagata beef, Shonai pork, and Yamagata herb chicken.

The assortment of alcoholic beverages is also from local breweries. Specifically, there are 18 brands of sake from the Shonai region and 14 brands of wine from wineries throughout Yamagata.

Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse

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3. Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn: A Designer Hot-Spring Ryokan

Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Picture courtesy of Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Known for its retro streetscape, Ginzan Onsen is a hot spring resort popular for its beautiful snowy scenery in the wintertime. Among the many ryokans (traditional inns), Fujiya Inn stands out as a unique lodging facility with a history spanning over 400 years.

Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Picture courtesy of Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

This traditional ryokan was renovated in 2006 by Kengo Kuma, a renowned Japanese architect. The newly designed facility incorporates stained glass, sumushiko (*2) bamboo shades, and Japanese washi paper to create an unparalleled atmosphere.

Interestingly, the rooms don't have numbers or doorknobs. This attention to detail adds to the one-of-a-kind experience for every guest.

*2) Sumushiko: delicate shades made from 4mm wide slits of bamboo.

Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Picture courtesy of Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Apart from the beams and pillars supporting the high ceilings, the interior design is kept minimal. Illuminated with warm lighting, the rooms are so comfortable that you'll lose track of time the moment you step inside.

Each of the eight guest rooms faces the Ginzan River running through the hot-spring town. Enjoy the sound of rushing water and the sight of traditional streets outside.

Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Picture courtesy of Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Guests may reserve one of the five private baths to relax in: cypress, bamboo, underground, stone, and semi-open-air bath, respectively.

Those who reserve the semi-open-air bath will feel the refreshing mountain breeze while soaking in the warm water. You can also adjust the window grids to let in the right amount of light.

Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

Sample image. The dishes served are seasonal. (Picture courtesy of Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn)

The ryokan serves kaiseki cuisine, a traditional multi-course meal. The entree usually consists of seafood, such as seasonal sashimi or grilled fish. You can also find Obanazawa beef tobanyaki (*) on the menu.

*Tobanyaki: meat roasted on a ceramic plate.

Ginzan Hot Spring Fujiya Inn

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Yamagata: A Destination for Hot Spring Lovers!

While this article featured three amazing hot spring resorts, Yamagata is home to countless other onsen spots. Zao Onsen, Atsumi Onsen, and Hijiori Onsen are just a few of the other resorts worth seeing during your trip.

If you love hot springs, visit Yamagata and spend a stress-free vacation soaking up every last inch of relaxation.

Written by Chen
Sponsored by Yamagata Prefecture

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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