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.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Agoda, Booking.com, Rakuten, HostelWorld and Priceline so you can book your Tenjin Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Tenjin Lodge Minakami-Machi, Japan - Gunma