"The former home of a feudal lord" - that slogan, combined with a scenic picture on the website makes Tokanso sound like a real retreat. It's not! But it has a lot of advantages, too.
First of all, it's a little tough to find. Crossing the river from Nikko "downtown" (the famous red bridge on your left), you'll hit a t-junction. Bear right and then continue to keep left until you are on a small street in a wooded area. Tokanso is one of the entrances on your right. If you pass a small shrine on your right, you've already missed it. There is no English sign at the driveway entrance.
Tokanso is a hotel/ryokan mix on a large property. Don't expect anything cosy or very personal though.
Your name on a wooden shutter outside (great idea) and on the shoe cupboard in the lobby is about the closest thing to "personal" you'll experience here.
The biggest advantage is its location. If your here for the temples, that is. It's about a 5 to 10 min. walk from your room to the front step of Toshogu temple. We took a walk in the temple area before breakfast and it was one of the most magical experiences we had in three weeks in Japan. The huge trees, the peace and quiet before the tour buses arrive and the fresh air .... amazing.
Apart from that, here's a quick overview of Tokanso's pros and cons:
- Room: not modern, not spick-and-span, but roomy; some have great garden views
- Bath: more like an extremely shallow European style swimming pool (coloured tiles, 1970s style), but nice and hot
- Dinner/Breakfast: Have them in your room! It's without extra charge. The dining hall feels like the communal dining area in a backpackers of a communist country, plus it has a red carpet that can tell tales of all tourists who failed to master the art of eating with chopsticks (and of what they tried to eat). Yuck!
- Food: Strictly Japanese, but with a lot of variations
- Staff: In the restaurant, they don't speak English. When we were there, the guy at the reception desk had a five word repertoire. But there was also a middle-aged lady working there, in a funny hotel outfit, who acted like she had smoked some powerful weed that loosened here tongue. She spoke some English, some French, some German and a lot of Japanese - and she was very helpful, though not particularly knowledgeable.
One word of warning: On weekends, Nikko gets packed with Japanese one-night-only-tourist, who are not there to admire Buddhist art. We stayed at Tokanso on a Saturday night and the place was packed with drunk Japanese guys in the 30s who had paid for the company of about ten young Japanese women in stewardess costumes. They partied hard and sang Karaoke in the dining hall. I quote from Tokanso's web site: "Silence and seasonal beauty will go straight to your heart."
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Parking: 30 ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, Rakuten, Priceline, Booking.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, JAPANiCAN, Expedia, Agoda, getaroom.com, Hotwire, TripOnline SA, Cheap Tickets and Cancelon so you can book your Nikko Tokanso 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.