Japan,  Review

Sumiyoshi Ryokan: One Night in this Unique Takayama Hotel

Sumiyoshi Ryokan

One thing everyone seems to have on their Japan bucket list is to stay in a ryokan, and we were no different! These traditional inns have everything to give foreigners all those authentic Japanese feels.

We ended up staying in three different ryokans during our two weeks in Japan. Our stay in Sumiyoshi Ryokan in Takayama was by far our favorite. Sumiyoshi Ryokan had it all: mouthwatering meals, a relaxing onsen, a cozy and quiet room, friendly staff, and a perfect location in Takayama.

If you’re looking for a unique stay in Takayama, keep reading to find out more about Sumiyoshi Ryokan.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission. This occurs at no added cost to you.

Sumiyoshi Ryokan’s Location

Sumiyoshi Ryokan almost couldn’t have a more perfect location in Takayama. It’s in a quiet location right across the Miyagawa River from Takayama’s historic old town.

You’re just minutes away from all of Takayama’s most charming restaurants, shops and sake breweries. Yet, because Sumiyoshi Ryokan is on the other side of the river, all you can hear from your room is silence or, if you’re room is on the side of the river, the peaceful noises of the water bubbling away.

The only downside of Sumiyoshi Ryokan’s location is that it’s a bit of a walk from Takayama’s train station. It’s a 15-minute walk to get from the station to this Takayama ryokan. That’s not terrible, but it can be difficult if you have heavy backpacks or lots of luggage.

The Alley Where Sumiyoshi Ryokan Is Found
Don’t be fooled by this sleepy alley: just on the other side of Sumiyoshi Ryokan is Takayama’s historic center.

Checking In and Initial Impressions of Sumiyoshi Ryokan

At first glance from outside, Sumiyoshi Ryokan didn’t seem like anything too special. Sure, the exterior was cute, but not particularly any more or less so than any other building we walked by in Takayama. Its exterior did a good job at hiding how special – and big – it was inside.

When we walked in, we were initially greeted by a dark lobby bedecked with kitschy Japanese trinkets on one side and a space for guest’s shoes on the other. This was the first place during our stay where we really saw the tradition of taking shoes off upon entering a building taken seriously. A good sign!

The elderly man who checked us in was an even better sign of how special Sumiyoshi Ryokan was. Even though he only spoke broken English – and we only spoke broken Japanese – he was quick, friendly and amusing. We already paid for our room upon booking at Booking.com, so that certainly helped to move things along.

After checking us in, he took us to our room. He encouraged us to sit down at the small table set overlooking the river while he stepped out for a moment. This gave us a moment to take in our surroundings, which were impressive.

Before too long, he returned with a tray of matcha tea for us to enjoy as we relaxed in our room. It was a nice way to end what had already been a pleasant check-in process!

The Check-In Area Of Sumiyoshi Ryokan
I loved all the kitschy Japanese trinkets that greeted us while we checked in!
Hallways Of Sumiyoshi Ryokan
Walking through Sumiyoshi Ryokan’s hallways was a treat, too.
Sumiyoshi Ryokan Garden
I enjoyed looking at their garden, but I never could figure out how to get into it.

Our Sumiyoshi Ryokan Room

And that brings me to the room at Sumiyoshi Ryokan. To say this was one of the best hotel rooms we’ve stayed in during all our travels is an understatement. Everything about this room was perfect. It was even better than I envisioned when I imagined what a stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan would be like.

The room came with a half bathroom, robes and slippers, a small Japanese-style table for two, and a screened in balcony with another Western-style table overlooking the river. It even had a small TV, but you’re not going to want to turn that on when you can just sit in peace taking in your surroundings!

During our dinner, the Japanese-style table was replaced with tatami mats and futons. To prevent the room from getting too cold or loud, the balcony had shutter doors that could be shut at night. It should be noted, however, that the room was almost totally silent, so I don’t think we had to worry about noises keeping us up. The only noise was the sound of a very feisty cat right outside our balcony around 3:00 a.m.

I can’t talk this room up enough. It was just so cozy and peaceful. My favorite part of the room was the balcony. It was nice to be able to come back here after our dinner and onsen experience to relax at the table with an Asahi while I listened to the noises of the night.

Our Room At Sumiyoshi Ryokan
Seriously, how incredible is this room?
Selfie On Our Balcony With Tea
We were pretty excited about our room!
Tatami Beds In Our Room At Sumiyoshi Ryokan
Our room was turned down during dinner and the table was replaced with these beds.

Perhaps the only “bad” thing about the room was the lack of a shower. Sumiyoshi Ryokan has a good reason for this, though. They expect you to shower in the onsen. If you’re following onsen etiquette, you won’t even notice the lack of a shower.

Dinner at Sumiyoshi Ryokan

And all that brings me to my favorite part of our time at Sumiyoshi Ryokan: our two delicious meals! The food here was so good that it would be worth eating here even if you weren’t staying the night.

Our first meal was dinner, and what a dinner it was. Our meal was set in a small, private room replete with simple Japanese art and decorations with a single table for just Michelle and me in the middle.

Some of our meal was already laid out when we arrived while a few more things were brought in after we sat down. Plum wine was included, but I was able to purchase an additional generous serving of sake.

Our meal included several different things: miso soup with noodles and beef, three different pieces of seafood sashimi, a mushroom salad, tofu, anchovies, rice, and then fruit for dessert. To be honest, when I write it down it doesn’t seem like much, but it was all so tasty and plentiful. Even the tofu was good, which I almost never like.

While the food was remarkably good, perhaps the best part of the whole meal was the woman who served us. To say this lady was a bit long in the tooth is an understatement, but I don’t mean that as an insult. The years had only wizened her and improved her. She was delightful, happy and completely carefree.

It was obvious this wasn’t her first rodeo. She served us with a toothy grin and no English, but that didn’t stop her from talking with us in ways that she had perfected over the years. She pointed, she cackled, she scoffed, she even physically placed our hands where they needed to be. It was all a bit disarming but in such a way that it added so much to the whole experience.

Dinner At Sumiyoshi Ryokan
It kind of doesn’t look like much, but I left dinner very full and very satisfied.

Breakfast is included in the price of a room. Dinner is not. That said, dinner is worth the splurge!

Relaxing in Sumiyoshi Ryokan’s Onsen

After dinner, we headed to the private onsen to relax for a bit before going to bed. Sumiyoshi Ryokan has two private onsens for guests to use at their own leisure.

This onsen was our first in Japan, and it was such a treat to have waited till here. The room was filled with a traditional wood design that created an old-world vibe. It had showers for us to clean ourselves off before entering the bath and then to rinse off afterwards. They also provided buckets to fill with cold water if we became overheated.

The tub itself was perfect. It had hot spring water gently flowing out of a spout in the corner that created a relaxing noise while we soaked. Within the tub was a seating area along the side to get our upper bodies out of the hot water, and the floor had a gentle slope to let us submerge ourselves however much we felt comfortable with.

It was good that it had these features because the water was hot! It was comfortably hot at first touch, but I did need to bring my upper body out of the water after several minutes to cool off a bit.

Overall, the onsen at Sumiyoshi Ryokan was extremely relaxing and enjoyable.

My only complaint about Sumiyoshi Ryokan is that you can’t schedule a time to use either onsen. Since there are only two onsens available, you may have a bit of a wait on your hands. The flipside of this is that you aren’t restricted to any one time.

We only had to wait about 10 minutes, so it wasn’t bad, but it is something to be aware of.

Sumiyoshi Ryokan Onsen
This onsen was so relaxing. It’s even better at night when the lights are dim and steam fills the room.

Breakfast at Sumiyoshi Ryokan

Breakfast was almost just as good as dinner. Actually, if not for the added influence of sake and plum wine (and a slight hangover), the breakfast may have actually been better.

Like dinner, we arrived in the same room with some of our food already laid out for us. This time we were greeted by a small fire going in the middle of our table. Eventually, the same woman who served us at dinner came out and placed a magnolia leaf on the grate which was used to cook hoba miso, a regional delicacy.

While this cooked, we were treated to several other breakfast foods, including a sort of poached egg, miso soup, vegetables and some small pieces of fish.

Yet, the hoba miso was easily the highlight. It looked kind of just like brown goop while it was cooking, but it smelled amazing. Once it was cooked, it tasted even better.

Our hostess showed us how to create makeshift pieces of sushi with a small piece of seaweed smothered with the hoba miso and then wrapped around chunks of rice with our chopsticks. This was both a fun and delicious way to eat this local food!

Breakfast At Sumiyoshi Ryokan
That’s hoba miso cooking on a magnolia leaf at the top of the photo. It makes my mouth water just looking at it!

You can also choose to have a Western breakfast. In my opinion, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by skipping their traditional meal.

Book Sumiyoshi Ryokan Today

All that sounds pretty good, right? Our only regret after our night at Sumiyoshi Ryokan was that we didn’t open our wallets a bit to spend another night here. Of all the wonderful things we saw and did in Japan, our stay here was one of our favorites.

Get your room at Sumiyoshi Ryokan now! It’s a little on the pricey side compared to standard hotels, but you absolutely will not regret it.

Get Ready for Your Trip to Takayama

Whether you’re looking for tours, hotels or flights, here are some tools to help get you started planning your trip to Japan!

Look for activities and tours offered through GetYourGuide or Viator!

Search Flights

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out my travel essentials pages for more of my recommendations.

Pin This Post!