A ryokan for those with a taste for the finer things in life
Founded over 150 years ago, Nishimuraya Honkan is the leading lodging at Kinosaki Onsen--a traditional hot springs resort town with a history dating back 1,300 years. The town itself has a reputation for being a hidden gem in Japan's Kansai region, situated within Hyogo prefecture by the Sea of Japan and accessible from both Kyoto and Osaka prefectures. Kinosaki Onsen is compact and can easily be explored by visitors on foot, who roam to and fro between seven famed hot springs open to the public, dressed in lightweight kimono-like garments called "yukata."
However, as the pinnacle of luxury when it comes to traditional ryokan lodging in Japan, Nishimuraya Honkan specifically serves guests with a taste for the finer things in life--and to serve those who are accustomed to luxury, one must be just as accustomed to luxury oneself--sometimes even moreso. This is how Nishimuraya Honkan's pursuit of elegance in its purest form has defined its mission in delighting the guest.
This understanding of the essence of Japanese refinement plays out a hundredfold in each aspect that makes up Nishimuraya. One can immediately discern this attention to fine taste upon passing through the main entrance--a faint, yet pleasing fragrance greets the nostrils--a tastefully blended incense. Then upon looking around, one might notice the "genji-mon" symbols engraved on the transom. Those informed about the Japanese art of incense will instantly recognize these symbols as a subtle, playful hint at what was likely passing through the mind: ""Ah, this incense!"" And yet, only a master carpenter and architect could have pulled off this feat--one who truly comprehends the taste of those who appreciate Japan's aesthetic sensibilities.
The gate of the Nishimuraya Honkan is registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan together with the Hiratakan annex building and the main reception hall.
- Top: The Otani River, a Kinosaki icon
- Middle: The gate of the Nishimuraya Honkan is registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan together with the Hiratakan annex building and the main reception hall.
- Bottom: The courtyard. Rooms facing the courtyard have been designed so that the interior of each room cannot be seen from other rooms.
A faint fragrance envelops the lobby
So-called "genji-mon," or Genji crests engraved on a transom. These crests relate to the world's first novel, "The Tale of Genji," and are used in the art of incense.
Comments from a "nakai-san" (a room attendant at a traditional ryokan)
It is said that hospitality at Nishimuraya "begins from greeting the guest at the entrance, and ends when sending them off." The entrance lobby, which is the stage for this, is thoroughly polished during times when customers are not present. One can hear employees having conversations like the following in the lobby:
"The guests staying in "Hiragi" originally wanted to stay in a larger room?"
"Yes, but as soon as they entered "Hiragi" they liked it so much that they didn't want to change!"
The "Hiragi" room is just eight tatami mats in area and faces the garden. Not just this room, but every room at Nishimuraya Honkan is unique, and none share the same design. So even an eight-mat room has its own charm. Many guests enjoy this "once-in-a-lifetime" encounter with such a special room.
Seasonal flower arrangements can be found throughout the ryokan
The lobby floor is polished very carefully
View of the garden from the "Hiragi" room