Maruyama Onsen Kojyokan at Ishiuchi is a ryokan and onsen. It is set back off the main road so you can't see it when you drive past, but if you seek it out it will captivate you from the minute you see it. It looks like an old style castle from the outside, and the inside is equally charming, with a traditional Japanese style that manages to look both old and modern at the same time. It is an awesome place to stay, or if you are in the area, drop in for an onsen.
The lobby sets the tone for the whole establishment with tatami flooring and dark wood. Tasteful flower arrangements are dotted around and there is a suit of samurai armor in one corner. There is a lounge and coffee shop off to one side with good views over the snowy fields outside. I wasn't expecting such a welcoming space and was stopped in my tracks by its appearance.
The rooms are a similar style with tatami mats and low tables at which to sit and enjoy your green tea. Futons are laid out at night and are warm and comfortable.
The food here is a source of pride with the local Koshihikari rice featuring heavily, accompanied by fresh local ingredients served up in many different combinations. You will leave the table feeling full and will probably have more rice offered to you anyway.
The baths are well-known and should definitely be on your list if you are in the Ishiuchi area. The main baths have both inside and outside pools. There is something special about sitting in hot spring water and watching the snow fall outside. There is also a new onsen that has been built in a separate old store house, again with indoor and outdoor baths.
There are several ski resorts close by with the hotel shuttling people to the slopes. The Kankou Entrance of Ishiuchi Maruyama ski area is the closest.
The hotel also allows guests to bring their pets which is quite unusual.
Maruyama Onsen Kojyokan is a seriously nice place to stay. It is one of those places that surprises you at first sight and keeps delivering on its promises. If you are looking for an enchanting place to stay, or even just a relaxing onsen for the day you will love spending some time here.