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Ashinomaki Onsen Hotel Ookawaso
984 Shimodaira, Oodomachi, Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture
From ¥22,000 /night

Ashinomaki is an ideal hotel for experiencing the traditional elements of Japan. In the hotel, you’ll find hot springs, tea rooms, a stage, traditional Japanese music, and — the most impressive of all — samurai.

Did you know? The hotel is famous for its similarity to the fictitious Infinity Castle found in the anime and manga series Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba).

What’s the hotel like?

ashinomaki hotel
The hotel is a great spot to get lost in nature. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

Ookawaso immediately feels tranquil.

When entering the open-plan foyer, you’ll be greeted by a musician plucking the strings of a shamisen on a floating red platform — from 4 to 6 p.m. every day. The winding staircase, water display below, and exposed beams show off the hotel’s size, and the guests lounging around in yukata signal relaxation.

What facilities does the hotel have?

The restaurant Kawadoko offers semi-private dining. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

The hotel is large, with 97 rooms and plenty of areas to get lost in.

The main place to hang out is the spacious lobby that looks out onto the mountainside. Here, you’ll find a self-service sake bar, and a fireplace for cozy lounging. On the bottom floor, there’s the restaurant Kawadoko, which has semi-private dining and is the more photogenic of the hotel’s two restaurants (note: reservations required via a hotel plan). The other restaurant, Kawamonochu, features kaiseki courses using local ingredients.

There is a wide selection of hot springs — both indoor and outdoor — and the option to reserve them for private use. Finish off with a massage at the salon, or sweat it out at the sauna.

The hotel even has its own dōjō. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

A rather unusual thing about this hotel is that it has its own dōjō. Here, you can learn to be a samurai, and watch performances. If you’re lucky, you may even meet Tetsuro Shimaguchi, the sword-fight choregrapher behind Kill Bill — more about the experience here.

What are the rooms like?

We stayed in a Comfort Twin, which was around 20 meters squared. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

The rooms vary and are usually split into either Western-style or Japanese-style. The Japanese-style room has tatami flooring and futon beds. The Western-style has hardwood floors and twin beds — there are no doubles. The sizes of the rooms are generous, starting from 20 meters squared and going up to 46 meters for the largest.

view at ashinomaki hotel
Doesn’t this view make you feel cozy? | Photo by Alex Ziminski

All rooms face the mountains and gift a green, white, or orange landscape depending on the season. The beds are comfortable, and the rooms come with pajamas and amenities. Note that the hotel encourages you to use their hot springs, so not all rooms have a bathtub.

Should I order the breakfast?

Grab a plate and load up. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

If you like to fill up at the start of the day, then the hotel’s buffet breakfast is worth it — it’s usually included in the price of the room. Expect handmade dishes featuring traditional local cuisine, as well as Western-style offerings.

What’s the location like?

Windows, windows, everywhere. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

The hotel lies in the mountain town of Ashinomaki, just outside of Aizu-Wakamatsu. While there are no main tourist sights within walking distance, the hotel is made all the better for it.

How is the access to public transportation?

The hotel has a free shuttle bus service from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (30 minutes) or Ashinomaki Onsen Station (5 minutes). You need to pre-book. You can also catch a local bus.

What points of interest are near the hotel?

Aizu castle in snow
Tsuruga Castle is one of the main tourist sights in Aizu-Wakamatsu. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

Ookawaso Hotel is a good spot to finish off a day of exploration and Aizu-Wakamatsu and the local area have a whole host of spots to explore, including Tsuruga Castle and Ōuchijuku Town.

Who should stay here?

Ookawaso is accommodating to all types of travelers, including families and couples.

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