Miyama Sanso is located in a small onsen town named Kurokawa Onsen 黒川温泉, it is known to be one of the most beautiful onsen town in Japan. There are many ryokans in this town, some with their own private onsen in their room and some has public baths in the ryokan. There are also many public bathhouses in town that you can visit with your yukata and geta sandals on.
Check In Date
Signage was quite weak as there are many onsen ryokans in this area and we made a mistake in driving to other ryokan’s car park. We were directed to the right car park at last which seem wuite empty. They greeted us immediately and like all ryokan customs, all staffs bows while they wait for you to get out the car and help you offload luggage. We took a long time to offload the luggage and the staffs were all waiting which I felt really bad for that. The reception was at the front and a lady who spoke Mandarin checked us in as we are Chinese. She was very polite and kind, talked us through the facilities eg. the public onsen on site and at their sister’s ryokan next door. She told us where we will be having our meals, told us the options for breakfast and time, then gave us our keys and showed us to our rooms. The only thing I dislike was she assumed we all understand Mandarin which I could barely understand, I hope they would provide English or gave us an option
A2 room – Western Room + Indoor-Bath
We picked the A2 which is the Western style of the room and A3, the Japanese style room. In the A2 Western style rooms, the living-room has a big sofa, an armchair with a footrest. I really liked the western style room, there is a balcony with 2 chairs and a table outside where you can relax and enjoy the nature. Although there is no sea view or mountain view, it was still great to see the beautiful greenery. Every room or suite I would say includes a long hallway, living-room, bedroom and a big bathroom with onsen.
So we were led to our little suite/room, and as Japanese traditions we will need to remove our shoes at the entrance and change into the slippers provided. There are traditional Japanese geta provided for walking around the site too but you cannot wear it inside, strictly for outside.
The first room you enter on the right of the hallway is the living-room which was very spacious and has the view of the balcony. A large sofa that can fit almost 4 people on, and very comfortable armchair with a footrest. There is also a large wooden coffee table where there is a booklet introducing the facilities onsite, however there was no English, only Japanese which isn’t very convenient There is also a map of the Kurokawa onsen town which makes it easier if you are out to explore on foot.
A wooden table and chairs were provided outside on the balcony, although there are no sea view, it was still very relaxing and tranquil outside. The view is directly looking down at the restaurant where we will be dining for dinner and breakfast.
The room adjacent to the living-room was the bedroom, the bedroom was lot more simple than I expected. There is no door in-between the bedroom and the living-room except a little doorway, however they do have seperate air conditioner in each room which also provides heating as it does get very cold at night. There were two singles bed, two bedside tables and a wardrobe, nothing more. At Miyama sanso western beds are provided instead of tatami which is better for elderly who has trouble getting up. Most onsen ryokan provides yukatas for guest, however Miyama Sanso provides these lounge wear which I did not like, it looked more like uniform for staffs here. Pink for ladies and yellow for men, they provided the wrong sizes and it definitely did not make me look pretty unlike wearing the yukata
Bathroom + onsen
Upon turning left at the end of the hallway is the bathroom and washroom. You will find the coffee machine, kettle next to the sink where the toiletries are. There is a sliding door on the right side which leads to a big bathroom where the onsen tub is. In the western room a big rectangle onsen tub is provided, hot water was running continuously. The tub is so big you can fit a family of four in there easily, there is a button to stop the running spring water but I did not stop it as I liked the sound of the water. There is also a shower on the left which you are supposed to shower before going into the tub. This was my favourite room indeed, having a dip while watching the reflection of the sun through the wooden windows was as Japanese as it gets, so soothing. I strongly recommend going for an onsen right away during sunset time then a morning dip, the atmosphere is completely different.
A3 – Japanese Room + Indoor-Bath
Every ‘house has two rooms – a Western room on one side and a Japanese room on the other side, so if you are in a big group like we did and chose both of the rooms, you will get a choice to connect the two and becomes a bigger house.
With the Japanese room you do not get a sofa or an armchair but a big wooden table at the centre with two tatami seating. There isn’t a balcony but a large window overlooking the greenery too with two comfortable chair by the side of it. Myself prefers the Western room as I can relax on the sofa while watching TV, with the Kapanese room it is quite hard to sit on the tatami seat cross leg and watch TV for a long period of time.
Bathroom + onsen
In the Japanese room it also has it’s own private onsen, however instead of a large rectangle tub, it is a smaller circular tub with hotspring water coming through. The circular tub is a lot smaller and can only fit one person at a time, although the circular tub is more photogenic, I still prefer the bigger rectangle tub where I can stretch out my leg.
Breakfast and restaurant
Surrounding and exterior
Like most ryokans, two meals are provided on site – breakfast and dinner and it is called 一泊二食. A traditional kaiseki meal is served at dinner on the day you arrive and breakfast on the day you check out, this is the real way to stay at a Japanese ryokans. The restaurant here is named Aze and it’s the place for both of our meals. It was a good 5 minutes walk from our room where we were staying and you will have to walk downhill, you can also call them to drive you down in their golf cart, however we opted to walk to enjoy the scenery.
Food – Breakfast
Just like the rooms, Miyama Sanso gave us the choices of the Japanese breakfast or Western breakfast.
Japanese Style Breakfast
The Japanese breakfast came in a bento box with grilled egg rolls, sausage and bacon, pickles and vegetables, a grilled fish, miso soup with clams, bowl of rice and a small dish of fruits. You get to choose a drink of course from coffee, tea or fresh juice. Being a non seafood person, I regret choosing the Japanese breakfast as the grilled fish was too fishy for me and had too much bones. The miso soup was very rich in flavour, however had too much clams so I gave the two dishes away. However the taste and presentation of the Japanese breakfast was above average comapred to the other ryokans I have stayed at.
Western Style Breakfast
With the Western style breakfast you get a choice of how you like your egg to be cooked, from scrambled egg to sunny side up. Like the Japanese style breakfast you also get bacon and sausage, but don’t expect them to be American style bacon or Cumberland sausage. There is a plate of salad, fruits, soft buns and a vegetable soup. The Western breakfast was disappointing however the presentation was immaculate and dining in this setting was very enjoyable. There was also a steamed vegetables for sharing which was quite tasteless yet so fresh.
Food – Dinner
Click here to read a more detailed review of the kaiseiki dinner
- Privacy as this was not busy
- Western beds
- Choice of Western or Japanese rooms
- Delicious dinner
- Dinner at private room
- Fantastic service
- Spacious room
- Private ensuite onsen
- No English verbally or on paper
- No yukata provided
- Weak signage
- Lots of dust
- Breakfast was average
This is my second time visiting Kurokawa onsen town and I wish I found Miyama Sanso the first time round. The pictures I found online does not do justice for Miyama Sanso. The pictures I found online makes this ryokan old and has no character, whereas the real Miyama Sanso has so much character. The ryokan was elegant, relaxing and natural, the setting for the private onsen was remarkable. My only regret was not having the time to visit the public onsens on site and only complaint was there was too much dust in the rooms. The rooms were pricey but to have your own private onsen in room with a 7 course dinner, this was a lovely experience and far better than other ryokans I have stayed
Another great thing about Miyama Sanso is you can book it on Hotels.com, most traditional Japanese ryokans is not available on booking sites but you must book via their website which is not English friendly so you will either have to know Japanese or using Google translate.
Would I go back again? Why not
Rating from my brain (out of 5 hearts): ♥♥♥♥♥
Rating from my heart (out of 5 hearts): ♥♥♥♥
Overall rating (out of 10 hearts) : ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ 9/10
6393 Manganji, Aso-gun, Minamioguni-machi,
Kumamoto Prefecture 869-2402