Japan, a great travel bargain – Taiseikan (Hakone, 2006)


I found this post in my draft box today and decided to publish it so that more people would consider traveling to Japan (and perhaps stay at places like Taiseikan). Again, thanks to our friends A & M for helping with the arrangements. We don’t know when but someday soon we will be back!


One comment/reason I often hear from people who want to take a vacation to Japan but have been dragging their feet, is the cost. But considering how prices have stayed relatively flat over the past decade (due to recession), I think visitors will find traveling in Japan to be of great value. As an example, we had a great time at Taiseikan*, a med range B&B for what would cost at least 30 – 40% more in the US.

*The English webpage looks terrible. Take a look at the Japanese one (linked above) for a better view of the place.

During our ten-day vacation in Tokyo last Thanksgiving two years ago, we took a side trip to nearby Hakone to enjoy a full onsen ryokan (hot springs B&B) experience. Although we appreciate a good onsen and comfortable accommodations, the real draw of the B&B experience was the kaisei meals so with our friend M’s help, we booked a stay at Taiseikan, a ryokan that offers high-quality seasonal cuisine.

Below are some photos from the dinner during our one night two meal stay. It’s been too long so I can’t really remember what we ate but everything was so fresh and tasty that we would go back in a heartbeat.

Dinner 2

Dinner 3


Dinner 4Dinner 5Dinner 6Dinner 7Dinner 8Dinner 9

Dinner 10Charlie happy with food

Charlie rarely gets this happy without some great beer or coffee so you KNOW the meal must have been really good!!

Just as a point of reference, a similar meal (dinner) at a kaiseki restaurant in our area costs $97/person [2007 prices] without tax and tip, not to mention the luxury of dining in your own private room.

And for those who are worried about language issues – I didn’t ask but it seems that Taiseikan has had non-Japanese guests (though they may have been Asian) since the staff was prepared to speak English with us (due to the name on the registration). Of course, once they realized that we could speak Japanese, they didn’t use English but I’m sure communication wouldn’t be a problem. Besides, goodwill speaks volumes, no?

Hopefully this post will encourage some of you to consider Japan for your next relaxing vacation. You will definitely get more than your money and time’s worth!

P.s. All of the items in the photo were individual servings. No sharing necessary!


The site we used to make the discounted reservation – Jalan.net

The ryokan website (in Japanese only)

The cost of our stay that night for two people was 39,900 yen = $344.276 (which includes dinner, breakfast, 24-hour onsen access, 1-hour facial for me and 30-min foot massage for Charlie). This is a wonderful deal considering that a stay in a nicer hotel in Northern California easily costs $300 or more, just for the lodging.


8 Replies to “Japan, a great travel bargain – Taiseikan (Hakone, 2006)”

  1. Mary,

    It’ll be wonderful when you and Kevin can travel overseas again. I know there are many places you’d like to go. Let me know if you decide to go to Japan someday. I’ve got books you can borrow!

  2. Min:

    It’s been two years so my memory is a little fuzzy but I recall that it was rated as a family-friendly place. I remember reading reviews by a few people who said they make repeat trips to Taiseikan with their family (including children).

    The rooms are pretty basic but spacious. And since the meals are served in the room, it’s easier for families with kids. If you go I think little Charlie will enjoy the cable car ride down to the hotel (it’s located in a small valley) especially in autumn. If you’re interested, I will post some photos next time.

  3. I totally agree that Japan was really affordable especially when we first went about 11 years ago. The exchange rate was great. The Michelin meals are much more reasonable than the fancy restaurants in the US. I was surprised that people are not aware of it. Of course, with the unfavoravle excnange rate now, it is less attempting. We did spent lots of wonderful time splurging in fine restaurants and shopping there.

    1. Christina – I don’t know when we will be able to go back to Japan next but even the “street foods” (B kyu Gourmet, I think they call it) were very tasty. (C’s favorite meal was at the horumon stand under the train tracks in Yuuraku-cho). Even though we can get Japanese foods like yakitori and kaiseki here now in the Bay Area, we actually would rather save our money to just splurge in Japan someday. C is so in love with Japanese food and products that he’s even willing to not buy any clothing except for when we visit Asia! But now that we’re only able to visit once every 3 – 5 years…I think he’s having to reconsider ^_^

  4. Hi there,
    Found your blog when I was looking to make a reservation of Taiseikan. Unfortunately, I am having a hard time finding a hotel booking website where you can make reservation online. It would be greatly appreciated if you can provide any booking info about this B&B.


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