A traditional Japanese ryokan with onsen

Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei

We wanted to experience a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn) complete with onsen hot springs and a full kaiseki ryori dinner and Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei (支笏湖第一寶亭留 翠山亭) fit the bill perfectly. My better half had researched the 3 ryokans in this area and I booked it several months before we flew over to Hokkaido. This was the one we went for since it had all the features we wanted (and more).

Hokkaido Snow

It was snowing very heavily when we got to Sapporo, which added to the charm. The ryokan will send a shuttle to pick you up from JR Chitose station. The driver didn’t speak a word of English but that didn’t matter, he was very polite and managed to identify us without much problems.

Mount Eniwa

The drive to Shikotsuko Daiichi Ryokan took about an hour. It went through perilous mountain roads where road crews were constantly shoveling away snow and we saw an accident on the way up. A car managed to plow off the icy roads and into the snow bank, but I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt.

Ryokan

The ryokan itself is beautiful! The staff all lined up and bowed to us as the shuttle pulled up.

Japanese Sweets

We were seated by the warm lounge as soon as we arrived and the owner served us traditional Japanese sweets with steaming hot tea. The check-in service was very personalized and very relaxed, everything was brought to us and we were made to feel very welcome with the hot towel and the staff ushering us to our rooms.

Ryokan Snow

I wanted to have a private onsen session, which costs JPY 3,480 (about RM 150) for 40 minutes. There are public onsen hot springs but (I read) that people with tattoos are generally discouraged from visiting. It’s some yakuza thing, even if you’re not one, apparently your ink makes people uncomfortable.

Onsen Tattoos

I didn’t test it out though, coz the public onsens are separated by sex e.g. guys are at one area and females at another different one.

Ryokan Rooms

We wanted to soak in the onsen together so the only way to do that was to book a private onsen session. We made ours at 3 pm and after changing, we put on our yukatas and slipped on the hotel slippers before making our way to the private hot spring.

Ryokan Lounge

There is a wooden block you’re supposed to hang at the door to signal “Occupied” but since we had booked the entire place, no one would come in anyway. There’s a shower area with a small stool where you’re supposed to clean yourself before going in.

Onsen Shower

We took turns showering and washing our hair before slipping into the hot onsen. It was an amazing experience!

Onsen

I must say, visiting Hokkaido in winter was the best decision ever! The snow was falling very heavily at the time so it was very cold. I think the temperature was -11 Celsius for the day. However, the onsen hot spring is SUPER HOT so it’s quite hard to soak in (at first).

Onsen Hot Springs

I had to slowly lower my body and my legs (and balls) were screaming NOOOOOO. Haha. It takes a while for your skin to get used to the scalding temperature in the onsen but we both did it.

Onsen Naked

I have to say, the cold really does a number on some of your appendages. smirk

Onsen Snow

I enjoyed periodically jumping out of the onsen and lazing at the chair naked while the snow fell on my head and my superheated body slowly radiated out heat until I felt cold again. The process actually takes about 3 minutes, that’s how hot the water was! It felt good to cool off before climbing into the hot onsen again, not just for the extreme temperature difference but also coz I wouldn’t be able to sit in the hot water so long otherwise.

Onsen Us

We both enjoyed the onsen experience. I still have a lot of fond memories of soaking in the water with my dear while it snowed heavily beside us. This ryokan is part of Jozankei Onsen and uses the area’s natural, mineral-rich hot springs. The view was mesmerizing!

Zen…

Kaiseki Dinner

The ryokan also provided all meals. Dinner was scheduled at 7:30 pm. You can choose the time and we opted for this slot. This is a traditional Japanese full course dinner known as kaiseki ryori. The chef will come up with lots of different plates of food – from raw, to steamed, to fried etc and there are multiple courses. I’ll write a full post about the kaiseki soon!

Sapporo Morning

We also walked out to see Mount Eniwa and Lake Shikotsu the next morning after our (huge) Japanese breakfast. It was a trek through (knee deep) snow but we managed to take an awesome winter photo together.

Lake Shikotsu

Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei is actually one of three ryokans (Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei and Jyozankei Daiichi Hotel Suizantei are owned by the same company with similar rates) in the area so it was just a matter of finding the one that suited us the most. This is the most “Japanese” one so I wanted my better half to experience this. We had an awesome time here. It was truly memorable, especially the onsen and the kaiseki dinner.

Mount Eniwa Us

A visit to Japan without staying at a ryokan would be truly a waste for this is one of the classic Japanese hospitality experiences which you should not miss. It’s quite expensive (around RM 2,000 for a night) but well worth the price.

Ryokan Me

The entire ryokan experience was truly unforgettable. I highly recommend you stay at one for at least a night if you’re ever in Japan.

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16 thoughts on “A traditional Japanese ryokan with onsen

  1. Hello sexy! Both of you really went to heavens and back! So shiok la to read your details. You booked a very good deal with all the privacy, superb hospitality and snow falling on your heads. That was good fate like heavens snowed blessings on you both. I won’t say it was cheap but I had checked the not so private ryokan in Tokyo that was over RM2k a night. One was crazily priced like RM5k!!! The stingy me could never afford this ryokan as my one week’s hotel would cost me RM2K. Lol.
    Your photos are very nice and interesting. I am looking forward to your kaiseki!
    I must work harder $$ to visit Sapporo next winter.

  2. Yes, I agree that one must experience at least once the ryokan experience. I will make a note of this ryokan that you chose because I would like to have a private onsen session too with snow outside. What an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Would love to experience this!! Wow! Really very strong to go outside naked huh? hahaha!

    I have been to sauna when in Korea. Everyone went naked. A bit awkward at first but then, after a while you are used to it. Everyone is the same! Lol.

  4. Too bad will never come to Malaysia. I am sure many would not dare to take off their clothes. ^^
    What happen if you do not want to take off all or wear swimsuit to go in? Do they allow?
    The snow photos are very beautiful. I never seen snow.

  5. That’s an awesome experience. But well, it’s OK for once (in a lifetime) despite the expensive price. The onsen does help stimulate blood circulation is it?

  6. I remember this place when it is my time to visit Hokkaido. Sound so fun and great experience for both of you. This is life time memory, I reckon.

  7. Oh man this brings me right back to my own ryokan cum onsen experience in Kyoto. Mine was also around RM2,000 per night (with the kaiseki dinner and breakfast). I remember downing a can of ice cold Kirin beer after the onsen. Good times.

  8. Yes, such a wise decision to have a private session together. My hubby and I went to the public ones so we were separated hence I did not get the opportunity to see his balls being boiled to a perfect Ajitsuke Tamago :D

    Would love to see your Kaiseki meal. Will wait for your post on it :)

  9. Beautiful place & wonderful post! Wow, don’t think I’ll pick a ryokan that’s an hour ride away. Your post reminds me of my trip to Hokkaido some time back, also in winter & I had so much fun making snowman.

  10. You really like to show off your body to your readers, haha!
    Definitely is a must to stay at ryokan if visit to Japan & I hope the price can be cheaper as RM2k+ per night is very steep!

  11. wah … you really sexy in this post, should have rated this post R(18)! hahahahaha..

    wow… that’s so nice to have a private onsen in minus cold weather with your love one!! You are really back from heaven… hmmm.. maybe I should suggest this to my wifey. hahaha..

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