Bessho Onsen in Nagano prefecture and Hanaya Hotel (別所温泉)

There are many areas, where are famous for onsen (hot spring bath) in Japan and each of them have their own uniqueness in terms of the quality of onsen itself, so it is rather hard to pick the best one because there will be personal preferences for what onsen should be etc depending on each individual, but I will introduce my favorite onsen hotel in Bessho, Nagano prefecture.

Nagano prefecture is relatively close to Tokyo and you can easily visit there by Shinkansen, so I highly recommend you to visit Nagano prefecture while you are in Japan. It will take about 2 hours by Shinkansen from Ueno station in Tokyo.

Zenkoji (善光寺)in Nagano city is the most famous temple in that area (When you are in Nagano, it is certainly worth visiting there) and I used to visit there regularly because my grandma used to live in a small onsen town near Nagano city, so I have visited there every now and then. There are many other places you can visit in Nagano such as monkey onsen mountain, Matsumoto castle, Obuse chestnuts town etc, so when you are interested in visiting Nagano, please check this site.

By the way, when you are in Nagano, please try the Kamameshi bento.


Although the company is located in a different prefecture called Gunma, Kamameshi bento is very popular in Nagano, that is mainly because it has been sold in those areas on the way to Nagano, so many people purchase it when they visit there. The bento comes with the ceramic bowl and you can take it home with you (it can be used for cooking rice etc at home). It will cost you around only 1,000yen. We normally eat it on Shinkansen, so it is sold at the major stations in Nagano, but you can, of course, bring it with you to the hotel you are staying or a park for lunch.

Bessho onsen is located in the south of Nagano prefecture and it will also take only two hours from Tokyo (You have to change the trains at Ueda station to the local train to Bessho).

Bessho onsen is a small onsen town surrounded by mountains and there are several onsen hotels in that town, but my favorite hotel is Hanaya (花屋).


Hanaya Hotel Entrance (source: Hanaya Hotel HP)

The hotel was originally established in Taisho period and the buildings have been well preserved as you can see on the photo.


Inner garden of Hanaya (source: Hanaya hotel HP)


They have a relatively large garden inside of the hotel complex and you need to go through these corridors to go to your room and other areas of the hotel.

They have three onsen bath rooms.

source: Hanaya hotel HP


The garden overlooking from the guest room

There are various types of guest rooms and some of them have the private onsen bath (they normally cost more than the standard rooms).  My favorite room of all is the room No.21.

Room No. 21 is the largest room available at the hotel and the room has various attractive features. The photo of the garden is from the room 21.


Room No.21 (source: from Hanaya HP)

The photo is taken from anther room of the Room No.21. The sofa and the table of the overlooking the garden photo is located on the right hand side of the picture behind the white paper doors. This room is extremely popular, so please make sure to book the room in advance before travelling to Japan.




They are dinning rooms of the hotel (source: from Hanaya hotel HP).

Japanese hotels generally serve dinner and breakfast and the cost is all included in the room charge. They serve traditional Japanese Kaiseki style course for dinner and breakfast is a mixture of Japanese and Western style.

Unfortunately they neither have an English HP nor English speaking staff, but if you search on internet “Hanaya Hotel in Bessho”, you should be able to find the information in English. I will also be happy to give you more detail information prior to your visit, so please feel free to contact me, if you are really interested in staying there.

What I really like about this town is that it is very small and so peaceful, but there are several touristy places too, so while you are there, you can enjoy both the tranquil environment and the tourist attranctions.

I will introduce several tourist attractions of that town.

Kitamuki kannon temple (source:

This is the main temple in that town and Kitamuki literally means facing north, so presumably it must be facing north.

Anrakuji temple (source:

Anrakuji is the oldest temple in that region. You need to go up the little mountain to reach the pagoda, it is worth visiting too.

Jyorakuji temple (source:

I love sitting at the window of the temple while looking at the beautifully well maintained garden.

Sobakyu soba restaurant (source:

Nagano is famous for high quality soba noodles and you will see many soba restaurants while you are visiting there. Sobakyu (そば久) serves the best soba noodle in that town, as far as I concern, so if you feel like having soba for lunch, this is the place to go (I tried other soba restaurants in that town, but others were not worth visiting, I am afraid).

For more details about the Bessho onsen, you can visit or .

Hakone is the most popular destination for onsen for those people visiting Tokyo, because it is easily accessible from Shinjyuku and they have both mountains and onsen, but the quality of onsen is not that amusing (it will be good enough for just experiencing the atmosphere). There are also other onsen towns where are more famous compared to Bessho, but what I love about Bessho is that it is not so touristy and it has not yet been known by many foreign tourists, so you will be able to experience what real Japanese onsen like and you can also experience the tranquility of Japanese mountain area.



24 Comments Add yours

  1. What a beautiful place. I could stare at the trees hours on end an not get bored. 😊

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! It is much better in reality than those photos, so please keep it in mind and visit there when you have a chance! You can certainly forget the busy city life. You can sit there and wonder around the mountains and temples.

      1. May I reblog this post? 🙃

      2. Sure, of course you can! Thank you for asking! I didn’t know you could reblog WordPress article 😊

  2. seagirll says:

    Woww… This is awesome. I loved it. You’re so lucky I think 🙂 Same to my another dream places. I can stay forever. Great Job. All my best.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Melody!

      1. seagirll says:

        It’is my pleasure. 🙂

  3. Mel & Suan says:

    We agree that it is definitely much better when you are there! We went to the Bessho hotspring and used one of the private baths! So much to do in Nagano and we’ll never forget our journey.

    1. Thank you for your comment!! Wow, you’ve been there!!! I’ve never encountered any non-Japanese tourists in Bessho, although I’ve been there several times… They’ve recently refurbished some of the rooms with the private bath! Glad to hear that you enjoyed!

      1. Mel & Suan says:

        We could not afford Hanaya hotel though! LOL. We

      2. Mel & Suan says:

        We drove from Karuizawa to Suwa and then up to Obuse. It was on the way to Tateyama!

      3. Wow!!!! Driving in a different country must be hard! But I’m sure you can experience more with a car!!! I’m really impressed!

      4. Mel & Suan says:

        Well, at least Japan drives on the same side as Singapore!

      5. Mel & Suan says:

        We could not afford Hanaya hotel though! LOL.

  4. Well, I don’t think I can drive in a foreign country! I’ll be too scared! 😱

  5. Beautiful photographs, I really want to go to Nagano, however, I don’t think I’d be allowed in the onsen with tattoos.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Well, it is true that many onsen facilities refuse the guests with tattoos, so it has been changing, so it will be better to ask them. They do not normally care if the tattoo is small. You can also hide it with a cloth. Another possibility is to book a room which has a private bath. There are many possibilities you can think of, so please do not give up! You’ll enjoy it for sure!

  6. Reblogged this on Surviving Japan with a Smile and commented:
    I hope to visit this beautiful place one day.
    For now, I would like to share this wonderful post by MA by So Shi Te.

  7. Japan has many beautiful places for visiting 😃

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! Oh, yes! There are so many beautiful places, but it seems Japanese people do not really appreciate them so much by themselves 🙂

      1. I already visited all the provinces of Japan and I really loved😉

  8. TonyJ2 says:

    It is always good to read about the smaller places. Going to Ueda and Bessho sounds like a good plan.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! I highly recommend these areas!

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