Top 10 Onsen (natural Hot spring) Hotels on Shikoku, Japan:

I listed these 10 favorite onsens by order as we walked the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. We were on our honeymoon so did some splurging versus our first Shikoku Pilgrimage back in 2019. The final 2 were off the Pilgrimage in Iya Valley but worth the travel and the perfect place to relax after 36 days walking.

  1. Hotel Nahari. Nahari, Kochi. After Temple 26 Kongocho

This Hotel had a pleasant onsen. After showering, I soaked in the inside hot bath. But then I went outside where they had an attractive garden with a stone hot bath filled with steaming water. So soothing after a long day of walking. Afterwards they provided a superior dining experience with bluefin tuna in 3 different forms. A fatty part, a leaner part, and some tataki as well. They even offered bluefin stomach tempura which I would never have ordered but was delicious. Even the bluefin skin and cucumber marinated in vinegar was tasty. ¥20,288 for 2 with dinner. 

  1. Hotel Chres in Kochi City. Just before Temple 31.

This hotel was a real splurge which we felt motivated to visit as we were on our honeymoon. The public bath was good but just a single hot bath. Their restaurant, Antique, offered an upgraded 9 course dinner which we opted for. A glass of wine was included. 1st course was an artistic tasty plate of 5 different hor d’ourves. Second was steamed sea bream with cherry blossom paste. Third Blackfish with salad greens. 4th a grilled wagyu beef loin every bit as good as some of the Kobe Beef we have had. 5th was grilled Yellowtail with a few beautifully presented veggies. 6th a conch mixture served in the shell. 7th a bluefin and yellowtail sashimi rice bowl. 8th a miso soup. Dessert was a scoop of cherry blossom sorbet in matcha sauce. The dishes were small and beautifully presented. ¥32,000 including room and dinner and breakfast for 2. 

  1. Sanyoso Onsen Hotel. Just a short walk from Temple 36.

We reached the Sanyoso Hotel facing the sea on a dark dreary rainy day. We dropped our backpacks off and walked to Temple 36 and returned at 2:30. They had a large comfortable waiting room with floor and big comfortable chairs and sofa seating. We got to our room at 3 and donned our Yukatas and headed for the Onsen. Mine was OK. They had one hot bath and then a small outdoor deck with two ceramic individual pots for sitting in. Nothing special. However, they switch daily with the women and men. In the morning I returned and the other onsen was excellent. I started with an indoor bath but there are large picture windows overlooking a beautifully manicured garden and a large stone hot bath. For me an outdoor bath is nirvana. 

Being on honeymoon, we upgraded our dinner and had some of the best sashimi ever. This area is noted for great bonito tuna and they surely had it here. Salted bonito tataki is their specialty and it melted in the mouth. ¥32,000 for 2 with dinner and breakfast.

  1. Super Hotel. Uwajima

This was a standard business hotel but of great overall value for those on a budget. The hot bath was modern, clean, and a medium hot temperature allowing for a long soothing soak. No Yukatas but they had 2 piece pajamas which were quite comfortable. They offered a cocktail hour from 5-8PM. No beer but plenty of spirits. We had a few plum liqueur with soda water cocktails. Their beds are very small for 2 but bunk beds are available. Breakfast was very good especially for us westerners that miss having fresh bread. They had croissants, pastries, and hard rolls right out of the oven. ¥13,800 for 2 with breakfast. 

  1. Furuiwayaso Onsen Hotel. 2 km. from Temple 44. 

Situated in a forested mountain, this made for a delightful stop halfway through the pilgrimage. Our room was a typical cozy Japanese 7 tatami mat room. Though we had a small balcony with a table and chairs to enjoy the view of forested mountains. The onsen was typical. Just a hot bath but perfect after a long day walking in the mountains. Dinner was excellent as well all for ¥10,150 pp with 2 meals.

  1. Seapa Makoto. Matsuyama. Between Temples 53 and 54. 

This is one of my favorites and a great value. First of all it overlooks the sea. The onsen has a sauna as well as 2 hot baths and one cold bath inside. Floor to ceiling windows overlooking the sea. But the highlight was the terrace with a hot stone bath overlooking the sea and islands nearby. Back in our room, we had the same views. Our room was small, 5 mats, but we had our own private 2 person hot bath as well. Dinner unusually included options, which is unusual. I chose a fried shrimp/chicken option while Mika went with the chicken only. Of course rice and soup was included. In the morning it was nice to roll out of our futons and slide into our private hot bath. One really nice thing about this Hotel is they offer two rooms for pilgrims each day at a reduced price of just ¥14,380 for 2 with 2 meals each. 

  1. Tsuruya Onsen Kotohira. One train stop from Temple 75

We wanted to visit the Kotohira Shinto Shrine so we took a train one stop from near Temple 75. It was then just a short walk to Kotohira Onsen Hotel. We had a cozy room with 7 tatami mats with 2 chairs and a table at the window for sipping tea. The onsen was good though limited to one single hot bath. Dinner was a bit different. Roast chicken is a specialty here so we went with that which was excellent. There was plenty of other food, soup, rice, veggies and roots, salad. ¥8,950 pp with 2 meals.

  1. Kiyama Spa Hotel. A few kilometers past Temple 79.

This was a bit of a quirky hotel with a down the elevator, then a few turns and steps down. Then a stairway up to a hallway where our room was. The room was just fine though with 9 tatami mats and a table and 2 chairs by the window.  The onsen was old but I loved it as it had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the valley. I started out in the sauna and then entered one of two hot baths before alternating a few times with a very cold bath. The act of moving between cold and hot baths is a Naturopathic method of self healing which gets the different fluids in the body moving. Dinner was as usual an assortment of small dishes; sashimi, a hot pot with fish and veggies and tofu, savory custard and assorted root and other veggies. ¥9,570 pp with 2 meals.

  1. Ryokan Kazuraya, Iya Valley, Shikoku.

This one and 10 are off the pilgrimage trail, but they were a perfect destination for 2 pilgrims who wanted to relax for a few days before heading home. Kazuraya required a couple of trains from Takamatsu but it was well worth the journey. We took a bus from Oboke Station the final 25 minutes. The onsen was set in the Iya Valley gorge. The room was upscale with quality furniture and 10 tatami mats along with a cozy table and chairs next to a large round window overlooking the mountains. The onsen required a walk down some stairs going outside and was modern and clean. The indoor section had a hot bath and a cold bath. Outside in a garden was a smaller stone bath. Afterwards they had a free massage chair which was great especially after Mika handed me one of those canned plum and soda cocktails. Later we drifted out onto a terrace with comfortable lawn chairs overlooking the valley and mountains. Dinner was superb. A series of small plates; veggie sashimi, mushroom and pumpkin, roast duck, chicken sashimi, and a specialty a medium whole Ayu sweet river fish. A delicious plate of tempura, and buckwheat noodle soup. Breakfast was excellent as well. Afterwards we walked down to the river and then to the famous Iya Valley Vine Bridge before walking another 9 kilometers to our next onsen hotel. ¥30,590 including 2 meals each

  1. Hotel Iyaonsen. Iya Valley

We walked 10 kilometers here as we were anticipating a great meal. This is definitely a splurge. We arrived early but they gave us towels and took us to their private cable car where we descended 200 meters in elevation to the river. The onsen was one large stone bath overlooking the river and mountains. The water was only warm but this water was very soft and it is meant for healing so the mild temperature allowed us to take advantage of its healing properties for a good half hour before returning up the gorge. A beautiful room awaited us with upscale furniture, and real mattresses. Since we had extra time I tried out the indoor onsen right down the steps to the floor below. It was modern and had a bath to ceiling window that was open looking out into the gorge. I couldn’t have been more relaxed by the time we made our way to the dining room for a truly gourmet meal. We are in the mountains now so instead of sushi we had roasted venison, roast beef, and another whole Ayu Sweetfish fresh from the river. First though was a beautiful plate of 6 different hors d’oeuvres served along with a tasting of plum liqueur. Then a Japanese Citrus pallet cleanser. Later they lit a small hot plate at the table where we put our raw wagyu beef and chicken onto cooking it to our own preferences. In my case, very rare. There was also a good sized piece of tofu to grill along with some colorful vegetables. Last course was buckwheat noodle soup. Dessert was a soft cheesecake with strawberries. In the morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Then realizing we were not walking for the first time in 37 days, we decided to head down on the cable car for a final soak. This was a perfect ending to our honeymoon pilgrimage. A splurge at ¥59,700 but worth it. 

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