Experience the world of “Spirited Away” at Sekizenkan

When I visited Nakanojo Biennale, I decided to indulge myself by staying in a traditional Japanese inn called Sekizenkan. The inn was built over 300 years and has 4 hot spring baths. Apparently it’s the oldest hot spring inn in Japan and Spirited Away the Studio Ghibli film was set in this inn.

I’m not particularly a fan of the Studio Ghibli films. But when I saw the inn during my last visit to Nakanojo, I was so impressed by the wooden structure and decided to stay there one day.

As I expected, staying there was a very special experience. It consists of three parts, the main building, the Sanso building and the Kashotei. The Kashotei is the newest building and features modern Japanese architecture. The second oldest one is Sanso building and is famous for its retro style with a combination of traditional Japanese and a touch of western architecture. The main building was built in 1691. Sekizenkan offered hot spring baths for medical treatment and it’s still used for the same purpose. I stayed in the main building. The hotel room was simple, about 10 tatami mats traditional Japanese style, but very comfortable and offered a great view of the hotel’s symbolic red bridge over the river Arayu.

All the three buildings are connected through lovely art deco style corridors as in the photo below and it was like a small adventure to wonder around the massive property. Once getting inside, I felt as if I time-travelled back to the Taisho era.  img_3427

One of the highlights of Sekizenkan is Genroku no yu the famouns hot spring from Spirited away. It was built in 1930, featuring an art deco style with arched windows and doors and symmetrical compositions.  There are four square baths and one big rectangular bath. There are two cramped steam baths for one person. There’s a chair in the tiny steam room to lie down and really hot spring water is running literally around the bottom of the chair.

There’s another hot spring bath that I loved. It’s in the Kashoutei and features an outdoor bath. It was lovely to look out the trees and the sky while relaxing in the big bath. In other areas of Gunma, hot spring water tends to be really hot. But at Sekizenkan, the water temperature is set at a comfortable level.

Apparently you don’t need to stay overnight to use some of their baths, but it’s worth staying there and spend some time to wonder around, enjoy all different sorts of baths and just chill out in the room.

Sekizenkan is located in Shima, and it’s far from Nakanojo station. But there are some art works exhibited in the area too so I recommend a visit to this lovely inn if you go to the biennale.




3棟の建物は素敵なアールデコ調の廊下でつながっており、その広い敷地の中を歩き回るのは、ちょっとした探検をしているかのようでした。 一旦中に入ると、大正時代にタイムスリップした気分になりました。




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