Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hokkaido Winter 2013 北海道冬季之旅 - Sanyoan 三余庵

Stayed 03.02.2013 (1 day)
Booked through Japanican.

- Japanese style room: Manyo -
Background: First read about Sanyoan through this book (北海道,一个人的幸福旅程) which I stumbled upon in the library. Milly (the author of the book) has been to Japan numerous times and have published a series of travel guides to share her knowledge and experiences accumulated over the years. In this book, she wrote about her 20+ days summer holidays in Hokkaido, covered entirely by herself. Sanyoan was one of the hotels/ryokans she stayed during the trip and had full of praise for this top-notched hotel located in Tokachigawa Onsen. Her excellent narration has intrigued me to find out more about this ryokan, which had left her a deep impression in many aspects. Curiosity eventually made me part a hefty sum of money to gain this experience myself.

Tokachigawa Onsen is famous for their unique and rare botanical moor hot springs. The water is slightly brownish in colour, completely different from the milky white sulphur rich hot springs that are more commonly seen. Moor hot springs is also referred to as a "beauty spring" because it brings about skin smoothing and moisturising effects.


Mode of transportation: Tokachigawa Onsen is about 20 mins bus ride away from Obihiro JR Station.
(1) Free hotel shuttle bus services provided by Sanyoan & Daichii Hotel to/fro hotel and Obihiro JR Station/Tokachi-Obihiro Airport. You will need to inform the hotel beforehand (via email or phone) to pick you up from the designated locations.
- From Obihiro JR Station (north exit): two pick-up timings at 1440 and 1645 hrs.
- From Tokachi-Obihiro Airport: one pick-up timing at 1540 hrs.

Shuttle bus from Sanyoan to:
- Obihiro JR Station: two departure timings at 0920 and 1050 hrs.
- Tokachi-Obihiro Airport: one departure timing at 1050 hrs

(2) Free shuttle bus service to Tokachigawa Onsen from Obihiro JR Station for guests of selected hotels/ryokans (inclusive of Sanyoan). This bus service is available till Mar-2014 and pick up location is at the north exit of train station. Collect a bus voucher from the ticket counter and hop onto the designated bus (three pick-up timings at 1526, 1651 and 1811 hrs).
Return bus trips to train station is available in the morning as well. Do inform the hotel/ryokan staff if you intend to utilise this bus service.
Please check up Tokachigawa Onsen Tourist Association website for the most updated information on bus service availability.
Tokachigawa Onsen Tourist Association (Japanese):
Free shuttle bus service information (1 Apr 2013 - 31 Mar 2014):



- Adore the laidback and relaxing ambience and attentive hospitality of staffs, which you will experience immediately upon stepping into the ryokan. Drinks and light snacks are served upon arrival and staff will check with guests what time do they want their dinner to be served and any food allergies/preferences to take note of.

 - Booked two rooms, inclusive of two meals (dinner and breakfast):
Japanese style room: 60,900 yen (834 SGD)
Western style room: 54,600 yen (747 SGD)

- There are only 11 rooms in this ryokan (located on the second and third storey), each having its own distinct layout and name. Stayed in the spacious Japanese-style room, Manyo (万叶) and opposite Western-style room, Yukiguni (雪国). Each room is equipped with a Japanese cypress bath, allowing one to enjoy moor hot springs in the comfort and tranquility of your private space.

-  On the ground level, there are two communal bathhouses (male and female changover time at 2100 - 2115 hrs) and each has its own outdoor area. Had my first experience soaking in the open air hot springs when there was light snowing and ambient temperature was below 0 degC. You will need to bear the cold for a while when shuffling from indoor to outdoor, but once immersed in the hot springs, the feeling is truly extraordinary and unexpectedly soothing and enjoyable!

- Shunju main dining room is located on ground level of hotel. Menu is changed every season, utilising seasonal and premium ingredients cultivated and harvested from the land of Hokkaido. Totally blew away by the sumptuous and delicious 9 course dinner! From the freshest sashimi, juicy and tender Tokachi beef, flavourful soup with matsutake mushroom tofu to the last delectable chestnut mousse cake, all the dishes were plated beautifully and artistically. Given a basket containing sweet beancurd skin stuffed with rice to be eaten as supper back in the room. You will be asked to choose between Japanese and Western style breakfast for the next morning just before you leave the dining room.

- Western style breakfast -
- Japanese style breakfast -
- Breakfast was equally pleasing too. Japanese set comes with grilled fish, stewed pork, tofu soup and nagaimo, which is a specialty of Tokachi, and served with congee/rice. Bread which is fresh from the oven and handmade jam, bacon, sausages and eggs (choice of scrambled or sunny side-up) were served in the Western set menu. Milk, yogurt and fruit juices were available on the buffet table, which is laid in front of the open concept kitchen.

- There is a covered passageway from Sanyoan to Daichii Hotel (both under the same hotel group). Guests from Sanyoan (but not the other way round) are allowed to use the facilities (bathhouse) in Daichii Hotel. A souvenir shop is also found on the ground floor of the hotel where you can find almost all Hokkaido's famous souvenirs here or grab a postcard to send home. From the entrance of Daichii Hotel, you can get a good view of Tokachigawa (十胜川) or even make your way down to the river bank to feed the swans on a good day.

Recognition: Featured in Michelin Guide Hokkaido 2012.

Conclusion: So far, the best ryokan I've stayed in my life. Both food and service standard have been exceptional and have made the hefty expenditure seemed worthwhile after all.


Sanyoan 三余庵


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