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Review of Shimaya Ryokan

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Shimaya Ryokan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 6, 2013

A lovely place to stay to see the snow monkeys. Our meals were all delicious and beautifully served. The accommodation was clean and very comfortable. Mr Yumoto very kindly took us to the start of the walk to see the monkeys and advised us on our walking route to return to the ryokan. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Southley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 23, 2013

I'm so glad I went to Yudanaka and stayed at a traditional Ryokan. I know a lot of people say that this was the highlight of their Japan trip and i think it helped complete mine.

Like many people visiting Yudunaka or Shibu Onsen, I initially decided to go because of the snow monkeys. Honestly, the snow monkeys were underwhelming and had I not seen them it wouldn't have altered my experience in this place one bit.

Firstly the hotel. This is a great base for Yudunaka and surrounding areas. Its 5 to 10 mins to the train station along one direct road - so super easy. Secondly the staff (and i think this is really standard for places here, not exceptional) do drop and pick you up from the station and to and from the monkey park. But everything is walking distance and if you have time and the weather is good make sure you get a map in English from the tourist information office or online before you get here and walk as much as you can. I had serious issues with the lack of printed information in English so i basically had to explore and figure it all out myself. Shibu Onsen Tourist information centre did however have English info which was great and after that I was fine. Both Shibu and Yudunaka are really small so its easy to just wonder and figure stuff out. That said the hotel didn't have a lot of info on eating places in the vicinity so again I figured it out but basically anywhere with a light on and 'flags' across the shop front was pretty much a restaurant. Every place I ate at was great. I had breakfast at the hotel - I went for the Japanese option and it was lovely for a few days but I probably couldn't manage it for any longer.

So my favourite part of this accommodation was my room. I loved it. I booked a single ensuite room; I had masses of space in the bedroom itself, plus a separate sunny seating area. The shower/bathroom was seperate and the toilet was in its own seperate room again, all within the confines of my private space. I can't comment on the shared facilities but I wouldn't recommend them, esp outside of Summer because this place gets cold. My room had a AC so I could was able to turn up the heat (although I was there in Spring there was very light snow one night).
I would definitely recommend this place as a retreat for anyone looking for some time out in the mountains. As a solo female traveller I can say that it’s very safe, the staff will help as much as they can (limited English though), the locals are lovely. There are enough places to eat and the supermarket (Lawson) has everything you need and more.

I would absolutely stay here again if I was in this neck of the woods and as I said before I would recommend this as a retreat for anyone wanting some time out :)

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled solo
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Thank serenerussian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2013

Our stay was wonderful and the owners made it really special for us as it was our honeymoon. Our only regret is that we couldn't have stayed longer. The food was amazing, really a highlight of the fortnight we spent in Japan. The monkey park was lovely and the private baths were just what we needed after we had been walking all day. Mr Yumoto was so knowledgable and willing to guide us and make recommendations for our trips around the area.
We would love to go back as soon as we are able to do so.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Raine M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2013

Like everyone else we came to this part of Japan to see the snow monkeys, and we also wanted to experience a real ryokan onsen. We learned some valuable lessons.

First, there is no reason to stay 2 nights as we did. In fact, you can do the monkeys in a half day and continue on your merry way to your next destination. Also, sakura is over-rated. Who cares about cherry blossoms when the weather is lousy? Your photos will look grim.

The ryokan itself was costly, as we knew, and traditional, as expected. We had time for only one turn in the onsen, though, so you need to be aggressive about reserving a slot because other guests will snap them up. Not sure I really dug it that much anyway. Too much paranoia about hygiene in the hot water.

Speaking of paranoia, the owner was a little weird. I went out one night about 7 pm and he came rushing out of his office to ask, "Where are you going?" - as if I was breaking curfew. He gave a lot of tourism advice in traditional robotic Japanese style. But to be honest, there was nothing to do in town. It was dead for the weekend.

We missed our train out of town by about 2 minutes because he insisted on having us pose for photos at checkout, and giving us mementoes. Breakfast was blah, but that was par for the course in Japan, a surprisingly fake-friendly and 3rd world tourist destination.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank dgdevil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2013

I chose Shimaya Ryokan based on the reviews alone and I wasn't disappointed. This place is worth of the great reviews. Ichiro took us to the Monkey Park, dropped and picked us up from a private onsen in the mountains etc. Was a pleasure staying here.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Bradley M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2013

Honestly with a perfect rating, so many reviews, and the traveler's choice reward this place is no-brainer on where to stay in the lovely quiet, quaint town of Yamanouchi. You don't even need to read any of the reviews to know you are in for a good stay. But dig into some of our experiences and it will make you want to jump on making a reservation before it's too late. seriously, this ryokan is THAT amazing and special.

We only spent one night in Shimaya but it was enough to leave a special place in our hearts. As other's have mentioned, the owner Mr. Yumto Ichiro, will chauffeur you all over town free of cost: pick up from the train station, drive you to the snow monkey park, pick you back up or at other locations (for us it was a pick up at the cute sake museum we walked to after the park), and even drive you to neighboring restaurants. I think all this gracious personal attention was due to arriving at a less busy time at Shimaya, but he and his wife will do absolutely everything to make your stay pleasant.

We arrived in the morning by the express train (**DO try to plan your trip to get on the express train as its faster and more pleasant) and the station office called the Shimaya for our pickup. The distance is definitely walkable but as mentioned it is uphill and if you are carrying a lot / not backpacking it, older, etc, it is worth taking advantage of their service. Mr. Yumto Ichiro came in less than 10 minutes and our royal treatment began. Super friendly, speaks fluent english and very knowledgable of the entire town. I learned he has lived in this small town his entire life and loves it. He told us about how long we'd want to spend at the monkey park, the other activities in the area, etc. if you are going to the park (I think that's probably 100% likely), they have complimentary boots you can wear over there if you don't have your own appropriate shoes - it is definitely muddy there.

We arrived sooner than our check-in time but our room was ready for us, which was very nice. Beautiful traditional ryokan, very spacious with the sliding paper screens and a cute enclosed patio with table and fridge. Mr. Yumto Ichiro's wife is so sweet and helpful as well, and tries really hard to speak english (is shy about it but does it very well!). They really provide the family-run bed and breakfast feel. We were leaving too early in the morning for breakfast; sad to have missed out on that added option.
And SO amazing that Mr. Yumto Ichiro was willing to get up at the crack of dawn (about 6:30am) to drive us back to the station. Our whirlwind short visit was definitely made pleasant by their comfortable futons and quiet rooms.

Definitely experience their natural hot spring onsen, which you can sit in privately by putting the sign up (separate male and female) and wow is it HOT. I loved it :)

One super nice thing was that literally a few steps away from the ryokan is a small grocery store. We were able to go there and pick up some items for a quick lunch before heading to the park, as well as extras for breakfast the next day on the train upon leaving. The grocery store had these great cheese breads and packages of sliced cheese. Need to figure out dinner in the area? Shimaya has a lovely book full of the restaurants in the area with photos and pricing. We hadn't experienced Shabu Shabu yet and were excited to find out there was a restaurant nearby. Deemed "expensive" by him at 3,000 yen / person, but a total steal considering it was 7-9,000 in Tokyo! We really enjoyed it. Mr.Yumto Ichiro's wife drove us to the restaurant and explained what we wanted to order to them...then the chef drove us back to Shimaya after our meal! what a trip.

I really fell in love with this little town and Shimaya. it's amazing one night can leave such a strong impression. At the end of your stay, they ask to take a group photo with you and will email it and thank you for your stay. The ryokan's have a tradition of giving and receiving thank you gifts, and we gave our small tokens to add to their lovely display case -- I wish we had stayed long enough to draw a picture to add to all the wonderful collages displayed throughout the building of all the guest's and their 'thanks you's' and memories. You can really see how Shimaya has touched the hearts of so many people.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Heather W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2013

If you are coming to visit Yamanouchi, then a stay at the Shimaya is a must. The owners are simply amazing, and will make your stay here unforgettable. Mr. Yumto -Ichiro really cares whether or not you enjoy your stay, and will go out of his way to give good advice, talk about the area, and even drive you to the Monkey Park! They Ryokan is warm and cozy, and private baths are available upon request. We had a wonderful time at the Shimaya, and we are definitely looking forward to out next visit with the warm and gracious owners of this charming ryokan.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank nickwc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shimaya Ryokan

Address: 3075-I Hirao, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun 381-0401, Nagano Prefecture
Location: Japan > Chubu > Nagano Prefecture > Shimotakai-gun > Yamanouchi-machi > Yudanaka shibu Onsen , Shigakougenhoppo Onsen , Kumanoyu Onsen
Hotel Style:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Yamanouchi-machi
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Yamanouchi-machi
Price Range: $86 - $159 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Shimaya Ryokan 2.5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
When requested, we provide free 'on-demand' shuttle services to andfrom the Shimaya Ryokan to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and theYudanaka train station. If you have heavy luggage, please notify usin advance so we can help you. We are also happy to offer suggestionsabout local restaurants and attractions.At our hotel, you can enjoy our public Onsen (hot spring bath) filledwith 100% natural hot spring water. On weekdays, our Onsen can bereserved for private use by families and couples. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shimaya Ryokan Hotel Yamanouchi-Machi
Shimaya Ryokan Japan/Yamanouchi-Machi, Nagano Prefecture

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