Sustainable Accommodations in Japan: 10 of the Best

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From Tokyo’s neon-lit streets to Kyoto’s temples, Japan draws travelers with its captivating mix of tradition and modernity and its breathtaking landscapes. Immerse yourself in the country’s history by visiting sites such as Fushimi Inari and Meiji Jingu, or iconic castles like Himeji Castle and Osaka Castle. Nature lovers are drawn to Yakushima (Island) National Park and the stunning cherry blossoms of spring. With its tranquil hot springs, known as onsens, and lush cycling and hiking trails, Japan has something to offer everyone. As tourism continues to flourish, so does the focus on preserving Japan’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Accommodations now offer green initiatives, ranging from traditional ryokans to modern eco-friendly hotels. To travel responsibly, check out this list of the best sustainable accommodations in Japan.

1 Bettei Senjyuan; Minakami

Image of Bettei Senjyuan; Minakami

At the base of majestic Mount Tanigawa sits charming Bettei Senjyuan, an accommodation that prides itself on preserving nature and the local community. This property partners with locals to restore the hiking trail leading to Mount Tanigawa and has been awarded the prestigious Green Key by the Japan Alliance of Responsible Travel Agencies, demonstrating its commitment to positive impacts on nature and cultural heritage. In efforts to reduce food waste, this ryokan has set monthly targets to ensure accountability for their environmental impact. Additionally, all of its produce is locally sourced, allowing you to support the local economy with every bite while taking in the lush greenery and the imposing mountain backdrop. As a plus, this place also features private hot springs, where you can relax and take in the natural allure.

Additional Information
  • Name: Bettei Senjyuan; Minakami
  • Rating: 5.0/5
  • Address: Tanigawa 614

2 Matsunoyama Onsen Hinanoyado Chitose; Tokamachi

Image of Matsunoyama Onsen Hinanoyado Chitose; Tokamachi

This ryokan, taking full advantage of the picturesque landscape that surrounds it, has adopted practices that not only benefit its operations but also help to protect the environment. With rice grown from nearby terraces, it integrates traditional and modern sustainability. Moreover, local ingredients go into creating its delicious traditional meals. Furthermore, its geothermal power generation system taps heat from the Matsunoyama Onsen, reducing its environmental impact, and guests can even take part in the onsen experience. Lastly, the ryokan has partnered with a nearby travel agency to promote the region’s products and potential, contributing to the area’s growth and prosperity.

Additional Information
  • Name: Matsunoyama Onsen Hinanoyado Chitose; Tokamachi
  • Address: Matsunoyama Onsen Hinanoyado Chitose; Tokamachi

3 Ryokan Echigo Yuzawa HATAGO Isen; Yuzawa

Image of Ryokan Echigo Yuzawa HATAGO Isen; Yuzawa

This ryokan in the picturesque Yuzawa is an excellent accommodation that is committed to sustainable hospitality. During the winter months, this property becomes a haven for those looking to experience the magical snowfall of the area. There is also a sister establishment located a half-hour away that offers tours that provide guests with the opportunity to explore the local area, from hiking up Mount Sakado to biking through the tranquil countryside. The on-site restaurant features traditional cuisine prepared with locally sourced ingredients, allowing you to enjoy the flavors of the region while supporting local producers. The gift shop is an added perk, where visitors can find an array of local brands.

Additional Information
  • Name: Ryokan Echigo Yuzawa HATAGO Isen; Yuzawa
  • Rating: 3.0/5
  • Address: 2455 Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District, Yuzawa, Yuzawa, Japan, 949-6101

4 Kaikake Onsen Ryokan; Yuzawa

Image of Kaikake Onsen Ryokan; Yuzawa

For those seeking a tranquil retreat, Kaikake Onsen Ryokan at the edge of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park is the perfect place to stay. Boasting an intimate hot spring bath, you can relax in the harmonizing temperatures of the water and the cool mountain breeze. The traditional-style rooms are comfortable, equipped with wooden furniture, tatamis, and even heated floors. The property is also highly environmentally conscious, as evidenced by their segregated trash and water reuse system. The food served here are also made from seasonal produce from local farmers.

Additional Information
  • Name: Kaikake Onsen Ryokan; Yuzawa
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Address: Kaikake Onsen 686, Yuzawa, Yuzawa, Japan, 949-6211

5 Houshi Onsen Chojukan; Minakami

Image of Houshi Onsen Chojukan; Minakami

This accommodation offers an immersive experience of traditional Japanese living, showcasing authentic features such as cedar wood roofs, scrolls, and antique furnishings that blend harmoniously with the surroundings. In addition to providing guests with rejuvenating hot spring baths, the establishment is committed to sustainability. It carefully monitors and responsibly manages the source of its hot spring bath, while actively participating in the Akaya Projectan initiative focused on restoring the forest area and preserving the natural environment. Moreover, this place plays a vital role in the community by locally recruiting 80% of its workforce and contributing to the regional economy.

Additional Information
  • Name: Houshi Onsen Chojukan; Minakami
  • Rating: 4.0/5
  • Address: Nagai 650

6 Ryokan Tanigawa; Minakami

Image of Ryokan Tanigawa; Minakami

Ryokan Tanigawa is committed to sustainability by replacing disposable chopsticks with reusable ones, reducing waste. Additionally, the ryokan supports local enterprises by serving traditional Gunma cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients and offering local alcoholic beverages. While it provides two rejuvenating hot spring baths, it does not offer shampoos to minimize chemical usage and promote environmental well-being. To enhance the cultural experience, the ryokan also hosts enriching activities centered around the irori hearth.

Additional Information
  • Name: Ryokan Tanigawa; Minakami
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Address: 524-1,Tanigawa,Minakami-Machi,Tone-gun, Minakami, Minakami, Japan, 379-1619

7 Syoubun; Minakami

Image of Syoubun; Minakami

This entirely wooden property located within a lush canopy of trees radiates a warm and inviting ambiance. One of its unique features is the spring water flowing directly into the taps, offering guests its refreshing purity and adding to the distinctive allure of the place. Guests can also enjoy a comfortable stay, with spacious rooms and private open-air baths. At this retreat, visitors can savor the true essence of the mountainous region through its authentic cuisine, as the kitchen sources its ingredients from the mountain and works closely with local producers to supply the restaurants food requirements. Furthermore, a charming shop awaits, with an array of regionally crafted items. This place even supports the MINAKAMI Oasis project, protecting the water from the Tone River.

Additional Information
  • Name: Syoubun; Minakami
  • Rating: 3.0/5
  • Address: Tsunako 277

8 Satoyamajujo; Minami Uonuma

Image of Satoyamajujo; Minami Uonuma

This luxurious 13-room property offers an exquisite holiday experience with tastefully adorned furniture and interiors. It is dedicated to promoting sustainability, evident in the energy-efficient insulation of the rooms for a comfortable stay. The ryokan goes the extra mile by providing toothbrushes made from natural materials like bamboo, showcasing its commitment to eco-friendly practices. The soap is also crafted from onsen water and rice bran, reflecting its ethos. Additionally, the water consumption in this place is sourced from the spring of Mount Osawa. The culinary journey here is equally thoughtful, with the culinary team carefully sourcing local and organic ingredients and minimizing wastage by utilizing every part of the meat and produce. The property also offers various amenities, including a lounge area and a gift shop.

Additional Information
  • Name: Satoyamajujo; Minami Uonuma
  • Rating: 4.0/5
  • Address: Oosawa1209-6

9 Takahan; Yuzawa

Image of Takahan; Yuzawa

Renowned for its appeal as a treasured writing retreat for the author of Snow Country, and boasting a 900-year-old natural hot spring, this establishment is committed to reducing energy consumption. Pellet stoves are used for traditional heating methods in communal areas, and toothbrushes made from renewable materials are provided to guests. The kitchen incorporates locally sourced ingredients into its cuisine to celebrate the region while looking out for the well-being of guests. Furthermore, this place takes part in preserving the forests in the area, and opens its doors to the community in times of disaster.

Additional Information
  • Name: Takahan; Yuzawa
  • Rating: 3.0/5
  • Address: Yuzawa 923

10 Hidaji (Adult Only); Takayama

Image of Hidaji (Adult Only); Takayama

Immerse yourself in the authentic Japanese-style living experience at this retreat, where rooms are furnished with tatami flooring and futons, creating an ambiance that truly captures the essence of Japan. While staying here, you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding scenery and relax in public baths designed for ultimate relaxation. What sets this place apart is its strong commitment to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The property utilizes mountain water and hot springs as a sustainable water source, and even employs hot spring heat for floor heating. LED lighting is used throughout the premises, and an electric vehicle charging station is available. Guests are encouraged to practice mindful dining with eco-friendly chopsticks and coasters, and the accommodation has taken steps to digitize documents and pamphlets, reducing paper waste. Additionally, the establishment partners with local producers and manufacturers for food ingredients, supplies, and decor. Notably, the ryokan has invested in Yamazato Monogatari, a project that aims to promote 100% natural and self-sufficient energy for the town.

Additional Information
  • Name: Hidaji (Adult Only); Takayama
  • Rating: 4.0/5
  • Address: Okuhidaonsenkyo Fukuchi 687

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