KAI Sengokuhara

817-359 Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 250-0631, Japan

Why we love it: A modern, art-focused take on the ryokan experience

The Highlights:
- Traditional kaiseki dinners crafted from local ingredients
- A private, mineral water–filled outdoor tub in each room
- Art classes and other creative activities

The Review:
About a two-hour drive from Tokyo, some 2,300 feet up in the mountains of the hot springs-rich Hakone region, sits this modern take on the ryokan bathhouse experience. Opened in 2018, Kai Sengokuhara is part of the Kai group of luxury ryokans throughout Japan, each of which has been designed to reflect its location and celebrate local craftsmanship. Here, art is the focus, with the property doubling as an evolving gallery for works by local and international artists. Also on offer is a roster of creativity-stimulating activities, including nightly classes in hand-painting traditional tenugui handkerchiefs.

The two room categories—one for up to two guests, the other for up to three—also feature original artwork inspired by the surrounding region, along with private terraces with outdoor tubs fed by spring water from the valley. Other touches include elegant flax kimonos, custom mattresses, and free Wi-Fi. Rates are typically half-board, so all guests are able to savor traditional Japanese breakfasts (centered around the use of a local yam) and flavorful, multi-course kaiseki dinners, crafted with local proteins (from beef to abalone) and elegantly presented on handpicked tableware. And then there’s the soaking: two bath halls (male and female) are each equipped with indoor and outdoor pools filled with mineral-rich Owakudani volcanic valley waters, in which you can soak away the world while gazing out at the lush green forest.

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