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“If you want to experience the best of Minakami, the adventure begins here!”
Review of Tenjin Lodge

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Tenjin Lodge
San Diego, California
1 review
“If you want to experience the best of Minakami, the adventure begins here!”
Reviewed September 9, 2013

Let me start by saying that I rarely leave reviews and rarely have experiences traveling that move me so much that I feel the need to tell the world about them. This is a place that leaves a long lasting memory. This is a place that you miss out on if you don't get to experience...and only when you experience it personally can you understand what I mean. It's why so many 5 stars exist for a long abandoned lodge that one very special family brought back to life in a way that is nearly impossible to replicate.

We found Tenjin Lodge based on reviews from Trip Advisor, and affirm that all of the positive reviews are dead on accurate! Coming from the US, the owners were extremely responsive to email and made the reservations process extremely easy for us. The fact that they are extremely fluent in English, Korean, and Japanese makes it very easy to communicate and plan the entire weekend too!! Not only did they book our stay, but they also answered a ton of questions about rafting and canyoning and then booked the reservations for that too. Kieren (owner) suggested canyoning due to the water levels and boy was he right....if you have the chance to try canyoning and like a little (or maybe a lot of) adrenaline, I recommend it!!

We arrived at the lodge very late on a Saturday night and the family graciously offered to pick us up at the Minakami station around 11pm at night....then they made us dinner because we hadn't eaten since 3pm...and then our friends arrived 40 minutes later by car and they made them dinner too. The family spent time talking to us while we ate and then Kieren stayed up and continued casual conversation over beers with us until well past midnight. It was like getting caught up with an old friend.

The next morning, we had a good breakfast and more conversation about what we could do during the day. Kieren, his wife, and another woman with many stories of her own who works at the lodge all spent time talking to us about themsevles and the many different options we could experience while in Minakami. Options like experiencing the onsens (natural hot springs), hiking, and water activities. Kieren even took us on a short hike around the waterfalls by the lodge, took a couple pictures of our group, and emailed them back to us later in the week. Afterward, we got back, rested and were off to go Canyoning...which it turns out that Kieren is also very experienced doing and wound up taking part in our adventure...which was great since we were all English speakers and wound up with two English speaking guides!!

We got back, rested, and again had a great evening hanging out in the common area talking with the family. It is a true family....the couple has a little girl around the age of 3 (as of 2013) who is very friendly and loves to play with guests if they are interested in playing with her. This is their home, which makes the experience feel even more like you are staying with friends.

The rooms are basic...bed, sink, table. The living room and dining area are so comfortable and spacious that there is really little need to stay in the room except to sleep. The conversation with the owners and guests as well as the other four friends we came with was enticing enough that we were often eager to get back downstairs, away from our rooms anyway. There is currently not hot water in the rooms, but there are mens and womens showers with soap, conditioner, and fresh towels in the basement that work great. The food is good and the atmosphere is very informal and relaxing.

The last day we were there, we walked around the grounds and through a small path in the "back yard". Down the path, there is an experience that words will never describe....pure beauty. The back path leads to the river...with lush green plants, trees, and water falls along the riverbanks everywhere. The water was moving steadily and had a steady sound that was quiet enough for low conversation and loud enough to block everything else out of your brain so you can meditate. The beauty and peacefulness of that place are something I will not forget for many, many years.

I just can't say enough about the magic of this place. Whenever we are in Japan again, it will always be a place we will revisit.

Room Tip: Ask for the rooms along the river if you can....the sound of the river will lull you right to sleep...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Heather K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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55 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Tokyo, Japan
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
Reviewed June 18, 2013

In my try to run away from busy and stressful Tokyo I came to Tenjin lodge and found relaxing feeling I needed so much.
Green, green, green surroundings, waterfall in front and river a side of the hotel, interesting hiking trails....
And hotel itself is cute! There's always pleasant music in lodge, rooms are clean and futon I slept on in combination with river sound fiiiuuuuu!!!
Stuff in hotel made me feel like at home from the moment I went in and gave me tips for the best onsens (hot springs) close to them. And they also cooked food for me, my belly was really happy with it! One of the important things is that they speak English, Japanese, Korean and French there it's rare in Japan and helps a lot!
So after this weekend I want to come here again, I heard that they have quite interesting summer activities there and BBQ next to the river... can't wait to try it!

Room Tip: They can give you tips for the cheapest and the best ways to get there, to experience all adventures...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank zabekaca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tokyo, Japan
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 16, 2013

Tenjin is a great place to take a family or a group of friends. I have stayed there in all seasons and can recommend all seasons, including Autumn when the leaves turn to stunning reds and oranges. In Summer it is a great location to escape from the heat of Tokyo. You can swim in the river nearby or take a walk through one of the numerous hiking trails in the area. Tenjin offers excellent value BBQs in the Summer time and can also organize rafting or canyoning for guests. Kierin and his wife Bo are excellent hosts and will make you feel at home.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank GYoung71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2013

We just stayed 7 nights at Tenjin Lodge and would eagerly go back. It's a small (~15 rooms) boutique hotel that is walking distance to a train station and to the gondola that takes you up the mountain. Run by an Aussie - Korean couple with an adorable young daughter.

Pros:

- Terrific hosts: every single recommendation from our hosts for restaurants and activities was spot on. They know everyone, will make reservations for you, and give super-accurate directions. VERY laid back and welcoming. Felt like we were staying with friends, not at a hotel.

- GREAT value. Same price as the hostel-like accommodations at Canyons, which is down the road, but Tenjin is SO MUCH nicer. Canyons is OK, but it's a hostel. Tenjin is a boutique hotel, with real beds, room to stretch out, made-to-order dinner.

- Great location for exploring everything in the Minakami/Yubiso valley, especially if you have a car

- Huge rooms for Japan -- pretty much what you would get in a US hotel

- In-room bathroom (though no hot water. You go to the basement onsen for a shower and shave)

- Fast free wireless internet

- Great Western-stye breakfast: eggs-to-order, toast, sausage, coffee. No compromises. Huge portions.

- Straightforward and very tasty meals. We enjoyed a "steak and potatoes" dinner, a Korean dinner, and a pasta dinner. All delicious, huge portions, very reasonably priced.

Challenges:

- Not right in the town of Minakami. That said, Minakami is not especially interesting or pretty, so we were glad we stayed out of the center. We rented a car from Narita, and were VERY glad we did -- made it much easier to explore and be flexible, and was MUCH cheaper than taking taxis. For the three of us, renting a car was actually only a bit more than buying three KANTO JR rail passes (!).

- No hot water in the in-room bathroom. They are planning to add this option to some of the rooms, for an added fee

As you can see, the pros far outweigh the challenges! Especially at this price point.

I only wish we could find Tenjin Lodges in other places...

Room Tip: Ask for the river facing rooms if they have them. Very soothing sound from the river and waterfall...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Tom M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
1 review
Reviewed April 9, 2013

me and my mate booked a twin room at tenjin the day before we rocked up for only $50 each (very, very reasonably priced for anything else around the area) and got a great room with bathroom and as soon as we walked in the door we were made to feel right at home.

everyone there spoke english, and keiren, the manager of sorts, turned out to be from the same area in australia as my friend and i.

we were offered tea and coffee straight away and for about 6 or 7 australian dollars we got a huge bowl of spaghetti for dinner - which was made in house.

the next day we were cooked breakfast and went snowboarding (which is literally a 5 minute drive away, or 10 minute walk for an amazing snowfield) and kieren hooked us up with pretty much everything we needed (meaning we didnt have to worry about looking for places to hire gear and all that stuff) for a great price and gave us tips and let us know everything we needed to. and when we got back kieren was awesome enough to drive us back to the train station to head back to tokyo.

all in all it was a fantastic stay and if you intend to visit minakami in the winter (we went early spring) for the snow or in other seasons i would recommend tenpin lodge to anyone. its in great location and has a great family/homely feel and relaxed vibe to it with and awesome people run it. had an amazing experience and will definitely be coming back here on my next visit to japan.

- ben

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank benjaminp576
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
perth WA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 9, 2013

Ive stayed at Tenjin Lodge a number of times now, the first being Jan 2012 whilst looking to get a taste of Japans powder snow relatively close to Tokyo. I went back again during the spring and took some friends with me to check out the area in a defrosted state. It was well worth the vist this time of the year too with plenty of activities in the area such as hiking rafting and canyoning. Most recently stayed again for a week over christmas / new years break with some friends for a snowboarding trip. For me and my friends this place is a perfect base to explore the area. Rooms are basic but clean and comfortable with hot shower down stairs. The huge lounge area has enough room for everyone to hang out and meet other guests or to sort out your gear without being in anyones way. I always go with the breakfast and dinner, nice big hearty meals and im the hungry type. In the winter with people coming and going the lounge and hallways can be on the cool side but not a problem if you throw another layer on. The owners are super friendly and couldnt be more helpful. They hooked us up with pickups and drop offs to the train for a fair price and helped out with info on the best boarding in the area whilst we were there. We have had a ball every time and I know I will be visiting again. Also very handy being able to have the english speaking owners help organise activities during your stay if you havnt quite got your japanese sorted yet.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank justcruizin7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
Reviewed January 9, 2013

I have stayed at Tenjin Lodge a number of times, in Summer and Winter, and always had a great time. In Summer I've used it as a base for bike riding in the nearby volcanoes and can recommend signing up for the evening BBQ by the river as a perfect way to recharge. In the winter Tenjindaira has plenty of back country for powder hounds but I've also taken my kids to some of the smaller hills nearby which offer good deals for families. Tenjin Lodge itself is a great little place to meet people with its very laid back vibe, good food in generous quantities and spacious communal area. The owners couldn't do enough for us and know the area very well. The rooms are fairly basic but clean and for the money I don't think it can be beaten. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it and I will definitely be going back.

Room Tip: Pick a room near the river if you want the sound of nature to lull you to sleep!
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank BurnsDarren
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tenjin Lodge

Property: Tenjin Lodge
Address: 220-4 Yubiso, Tone-gun, Minakami-machi 379-1728, Gunma Prefecture
Location: Japan > Kanto > Gunma Prefecture > Tone-gun > Minakami-machi
Hotel Style:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Minakami-machi
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Minakami-machi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are a full service mountain lodge situated deep in the Joetsu-kogen National Park at the base of Tenjindaira Ski resort and Tanigawadake Ropeway. Ski-in during Winter, rafting and canyoning next door during the Summer, dozens of hiking trails in the mountains surrounding the lodge, onsens nearby and only 180km from Tokyo. We are family owned and run and look forward to offering you a memorable, Japanese mountain experience. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tenjin Lodge Minakami-Machi, Japan - Gunma

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