Chichibu, located in Saitama Prefecture, is a place of lush mountains and greenery about a little more than an hour away from Tokyo by train. Known to be a hot spring therapy area since times past, the place is naturally flush with all sorts of hot spring facilities.
Here are three incredible hotels with open-air baths that cater to special diets like vegan and halal, making them a fuss-free stay for any local or international traveler!
Natural Farm City Noen Hotel: Comes with appetizing food that's healthy and natural
This hotel is built on a hill that overlooks Chichibu city and is based on the theme of health and nature.
From their open-air landscape view common bath, you can take in all of Chichibu city's streets and Oku Chichibu's mountain range at once. The facility is equipped with sauna and rest rooms as well, making it easy and comfortable for anyone to relax at length and leisure.
The spacious open-air bath connected to the common bath area
The common bath area features glass walls, allowing you to admire the view outside
For food, you can go for their medicinal cuisine which is offered kaiseki-style, or set course style. Western courses are also available for those who prefer that over Japanese food. The hotel has a macrobiotic menu and a restaurant offering all-you-can-eat meals for guests who may have dietary restrictions due to religious or personal beliefs.
Ingredients and vegetables are freshly procured from contract farmers or the farm directly managed by the hotel and guaranteed to be safe and fresh.
The package that comes with a health food buffet spread is one of the more popular choices people pick. This buffet will be available at the hotel's buffet restaurant, Chichiburo.
Staff of the hotel can speak English, and there are shuttle buses you can board to go to the hotel from Seibu-Chichibu Station or Chichibu Station on Chichibu Railway (reservation-only, subject to timing availability and other conditions).
All common areas have access to Wi-Fi. Room rates start at 19,000 yen (tax excluded) per night per room that accommodates up to two guests, or 14,500 yen (tax excluded) per night per room that accommodates one guest.
Natural Farm City Noen Hotel
5911-1 Omiya, Chichibu-shi, Saitama-ken 368-0023
Transport: 7 minutes by car from Seibu-Chichibu Station on the Seibu Railway; 7 minutes by car from Chichibu Station on the Chichibu Railway
Hatago Ichiban: Keep an eye out for their value-for-money solo traveler plan!
Hatago Ichiban is right next to Shimabuji, the first temple on the Chichibu 34 Kannon Sanctuary pilgrim path. If you intend to make a pilgrimage through the sanctuary path, this is a hotel that we highly recommend staying in!
Established in the Edo period (1603 to 1868), the quaint wooden structure of the main building was constructed in the early 1900s and has remained since, contributing to the olden charm of the hotel. Coupled with the unassuming hospitality offered by considerate staff, it's really no wonder the lodge is as popular as it is.
The hearty menu here is a plus point as well! In spring, ingredients used include wild vegetables and bamboo shoots. In summer, the highlight is sweetfish. In autumn, this becomes mushrooms. Finally, wild game such as meat from boars, deer, and ducks, is used during winter. All meals are prepared using regional methods and natural ingredients found in the locality of Chichibu.
Baths are available 24 hours a day, with bath water that feels smooth over your skin and warms your body up quickly. Besides the fieldstone decorated open-air bath that the hotel is proud of promoting, you can also find indoor baths filled with the fragrance of Japanese cypress.
The open air bath can be reserved for exclusive use as well.
Guest rooms, which were formerly tearooms, can be booked at a deep discount. For those who may not appreciate the Japanese aesthetics, Western-style rooms are available for reservation as well.
All rooms have access to Wi-Fi. Room rates start from 17,760 yen (tax included) per night per room that accommodates up to two guests, or 8,888 yen (tax included) per night per room that accommodates one guest.
645 Tochiya, Chichibu-shi, Saitama-ken 368-0002
Transport: 23 minutes by bus bound for Minano Station from Seibu-Chichibu Station on the Seibu Railway, 5 minutes walk after disembarking at Tochiya bus stop;
22 minutes by bus bound for Sadamine from Seibu-Chichibu Station on the Seibu Railway, 5 minutes walk after disembarking at Tochiya bus stop
Yunoyado Wado: Open-air baths attached to your very own guest room for private soaks at your own leisure
Yunoyado Wado is the only place where you can soak yourself in the mineral spring waters of Wado, the hot spring with the longest history among the famous Chichibu Nanato - seven springs of Chichibu that are collectively a symbol of the Chichibu region!
Iwakagami is a rock bath that's decorated with Chichibu serpentine, a rock made up of alternate layers of granite and quartz, causing it to have a serpent-like pattern, hence the name. Hiougi is a bath surrounded by wood from Japanese cypress, the fragrance of which is said to have healing properties for both mind and body.
The hotel's baths allow you to feel the soothing breeze of Yokose River while soaking your worries away. You'll also be able to admire cherry blossoms in spring or fall leaves during autumn!
Hiougi open-air bath at the common bath area
The hotel has 14 rooms that come with open-air baths for private soaking away from the eyes of others. This is an excellent choice for guests who are usually shy about bathing together with strangers!
*Although the bath water for the open-air bath is not natural spring water, hot spring components based on hot spring water analysis statements are added to the water so that guests can enjoy a similarly refreshing experience.
Open-air baths in guest rooms are made from either wood, rock, or ceramic materials. What yours will turn out to be is a surprise for you to look forward to on check-in day!!
Solo travelers are welcome to book these rooms for weekdays, except during August which tends to be peak season.
The restaurant uses formal cutlery to serve kaiseki cuisine made with seasonal ingredients, so that guests can fully immerse themselves in the mood of the season.
Although guests are not allowed to request for different soup stocks or condiments, the restaurant should be able to handle some halal or vegan requests, so don't be afraid to ask the staff about these options!
The hotel is within walking distance from Wado-Kuroya Station on the Chichibu Railway, but they also provide shuttle bus services, so why not make use of that? Once you arrive at the station, give them a call and they'll be happy to come pick you up.
All rooms have access to Wi-Fi. Room rates start from 18,000 yen (tax excluded) per night per room that accommodates up to two guests, or 18,000 yen (tax excluded) per night per room that accommodates one guest.
813 Kuroya, Chichibu-shi, Saitama-ken 368-0001
10 minutes walk from Wado-Kuroya Station on the Chichibu Railway
The biggest appeal of open-air baths is the ability to enjoy the ever-changing seasonal landscapes outdoors all-year round in the comfort and safety of a nice, warm tub. We hope that you've been able to find the best lodgings to enhance your appreciation of Japan's hot spring culture.
Text by: Medium KK. English translation by: Huimin Pan.