Japan's Best of the Best Onsen

Taiyo no Sato: enjoy a private onsen at Cape Inubo

By Julian Bohler    - 3 min read

I think it’s quite fair to say that Japan has a thing for rankings, and it’s not really new. The top 3 landscapes of Japan, the 100 most beautiful mountains of Japan, the top spots to see Mount Fuji, everything is about where to get the best experience or see what cannot be seen anywhere else.

Now if your thing is hot springs, you might be interested in learning that in 2014, the best ryokan featuring onsen (hot springs in Japanese) is located just a couple hours East of Tokyo, at Cape Inubo. It’s called Taiyo no Sato: Bettei Umi to Mori (literally « Where the sun rises: the Ocean Tree Villa », a bit more poetic in English isn’t it?), and it definitely is one of the most memorable experience I have ever had in a Japanese ryokan.

Located along the most Eastern shores of Chiba prefecture, Umi to Mori is a high end ryokan, where you can expect to feast with delicious and extremely fresh local seafood, relax in your private hot tub while looking down at the ocean, or just enjoy listening to its roaring sound while Inubo Cape’s lighthouse lightens the sky.

The ryokan itself offers a variety of rooms, and each comes with a set menu for dinner. Like in every other ryokan that deserves its name, dinner and breakfast are included, but what makes Umi to Mori so special is that nearly all the food that will be served to you is locally produced! (such as seafood and soy sauce which are specialties to the region)

Choosing the Gourmet Plan, we had freshly fished Japanese lobster, a delicious plate of fresh sashimi, hamaguri (a type of clam) grilled on the spot, sukiyaki and tempura in a very nice and comfortable private room at the restaurant. The following day, we were served a delicious miso soup made out of the same lobster.

This exquisite plan came with a top floor (3rd) room with an incredible view on the Pacific Ocean and the Toei rocks. And best of the best, a private outdoor bath on the balcony was waiting for us to enjoy any time during our stay!

Now for all the ladies who enjoy the yukata (lighter type of kimono often worn as a bathrobe), your experience at Umi to Mori will be even more pleasurable. You are able to choose from a variety of colorful yukata and obi (belt) which is rare among all the ryokan across Japan. But the one big problem with it is that is it quite difficult to put on by yourself. Here, the staff will help you put it on so you can enjoy your gourmet dinner like every other Japanese guest.

Note that you can also enjoy the public bath without staying at the hotel. With entrance fee starting from 1300¥, you will have access to the ryokan’s public bath, daiokujo, including amenities, several types of bubble baths, a rotenburo (outdoor bath) facing the ocean, a sauna and much more (karaoke, arcade games, restaurant with ocean view, etc.).

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Julian Bohler

Julian Bohler @julian.bohler

Born in France, I was twenty years old when, passing by a local bookstore, a book about Japanese characters caught my attention. This was my first encounter with Japan, and one that would change my life in many ways. Earning a degree in Japanese Studies with a major in Japanese religions and folklore, I have studied for two years in Kyoto but it only took me a couple of weeks to fall in love with the city. I really feel privileged to have been able to meet so many wonderful people out there, that taught me a lot about Japanese culture and about myself. I love nature, visiting temples and shrines, reading and researching about their history, joining traditional festivals or riding my bike to discover hidden places throughout the city. I also enjoy taking pictures wherever I go and Japan is a never-ending source of inspiration for an amateur like me. With Osaka, Kobe, Nara and many other beautiful rural areas at a short train ride distance from Kyoto, Kansai is also a wonderful area for enjoying the richness of Japanese cuisine. Japan has many secrets for everyone to discover, and countless elusive moments of poetry that no guidebook can tell you about. I am delighted to be able to share the ones I had the chance to witness with you and everyone at Japantourist. I sincerely hope it will make you want to visit and discover this magnificent country.

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S a month ago
I’ve been dreaming about an onsen getaway...the old school Japanese version of a resort.
Victoria Vlisides 3 years ago
Choshi is definitely a hidden gem!
Jessica A Paje 4 years ago
Julian, everything about this ryokan sounds lovely! Ocean view, feasting on the freshest, local seafood, a choice yukata, and a private onsen. No wonder it's the Best Ryokan featuring Onsen in 2014!