Hidden in the timeless hot springs village of Yamanaka, Kayotei is one of Japan’s foremost luxury ryokans. This exclusive Japanese inn—eminently traditional yet wholly welcoming—was conceived by an architect, a craftsman, and a chef who dreamed of providing exquisite suklya style and kaiseki cuisine within the serenity of Kaga’s majestic gardens and forested hills.

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From the tall welcoming tree in the driveway entry, to the complimentary locally grown herbal tea in the Kokin Salon, the calm, elegant quiet of the onsen’s mountains and valley have a way of washing over each guest as they arrive. The tranquility continues in the ten flawless suites at Kayotei, arranged in the traditional suklya style of a tea ceremony pavilion, with wood beams, sliding Shoji paper doors, tatami mats, and hand painted scrolls in the tokonoma alcove. The artwork and furniture throughout—antique tansu chests, low-polished oak tables, painted screens, traditional ceramics, Nakashima chairs, and modern sculptures created by local craftsmen and artisans—are pieces most Westerners only experience in museums.

Kayotei embodies the art of relaxation and hospitality, treating travelers like long-awaited guests and anticipating every need without being intrusive. Days are spent listening to the sounds of the breeze and the gentle river from private verandas and walking barefoot along the special tatami and hardwood walkways to the four hot spring baths (onsen) for soothing moments in the restorative water amid the natural forest. Even the kaiseki cuisine is of the highest order, with the chefs creating works of visual and culinary art as diverse of the seasons. Served in-room or in a private tatami dining room in the style of Japan’s elegant and exclusive ryotei, the local seafood, vegetables, and sake create an experience worthy of several hours.

This region of Japan is famous for its artisans and craftsmen, many of whom have contributed their pottery, paper, and woodwork to Kayotei. Some of the best excursions outside of the inn are seeing these artists at work in Ishikawa and learning about other local trades such as sake production and Samurai tradition. Kayotei is also near some of the area’s most spectacular natural wonders, such as the Kakusenkei and Tedori River gorges, Mt. Haku-san and the multiple alpine lakes, snow valleys, waterfalls, and beech forests of Haku-san National Park, as well as Kenroku-en Garden, one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens. No matter the experience, Kayotei is the type of gem to return to again and again, in green of Spring, the red of Autumn, and the white of Winter.

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