Story Enjoy a Healing Soak Like Ancient Nobility in This Historical Onsen Passed Down From the Aizu Clan Allow the Historical Waters of Mukaitaki Ryokan to Rejuvenate You By JNTO on 19 December 2022
The Aizuwakamatsu region is one of the most well-known sightseeing destinations in Fukushima Prefecture. Besides the popular, flavourful sauce katsudon, the thatched roofs of Ouchijuku, and the scenery of trains going down the Tadami train line, Aizuwakamatsu is also home to historic sites associated with famous samurai from the Sengoku period and the remaining years of the Tokugawa shogunate in the mid-1800s.
Sitting on the east of downtown Aizuwakamatsu is Higashiyama Onsen, a hot spring area nestled within a valley. Established over 1300 years ago, it is rated as one of Tohoku region’s top three onsen resorts, with about 15 different ryokans and hot spring hotels, sitting on the banks of the tranquil Yugawa River.
The history and guests of Mukaitaki
One of the most famous landmarks in this area is Mukaitaki, with its Japanese kanji engraved in gold at the front of the ryokan and its traditional wooden construction contrasting with the concrete hotels in the surroundings. Mukaitaki is a rare ryokan in Fukushima prefecture with its longstanding history and the support of its guests, manage to keep afloat despite the decline in business after the March 2011 disaster.
For Mukaitaki, their longstanding history dates back to the Edo period. The building that now houses the ryokan previously existed as a retreat to local feudal lords of the Aizu domain; it was converted into a ryokan shortly after the implementation of the Meiji Restoration. Important figures in Japanese history, including poets, doctors and prime ministers have graced the ryokan with their presence.
Guest rooms with views and natural hot spring baths
There are 24 Japanese-style guest rooms in Mukaitaki, and 3 rooms are equipped with private indoor baths. All ryokan guests have access to the mineral-rich hot-spring baths ー which includes Kitsuneyu, Mukaitaki’s oldest bath, and Sarunoyu, the communal bath. Every guest room in the ryokan offers stunning views that face the nearby Yu River, or the large traditional Japanese garden in the ryokan. Depending on the season, the views from each guest room add to the overall experience: think radiant cherry trees in spring, lush greenery in summer, blazing crimsons in autumn, and immaculate blanket of snow in winter that is lit up with candles to create a luxurious atmosphere for guests.
The sukiya-style architecture is featured extensively in Mukaitaki. This traditional Japanese residential architecture was developed in Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods. Such style favours rustic and natural simplicity that allows the architecture to blend in with the natural surroundings.
Fully enjoying your stay at Mukaitaki
Besides the beautiful guest rooms and the nostalgic atmosphere, there are other ways to make your stay at Mukaitaki a memorable one. Indulge in decadent meals made with high-quality seasonal local produce from the Aizu region, featuring delicious regional delicacies such as sweet water fish and Fukushima wagyu beef.
Another way to fully immerse yourself in the Japanese experience is to reserve a private performance with geigi from the Higashiyama Onsen area at reasonable prices for a 90-minute performance. The geishas’ repertoire of performances is extensive, that has classical hauta (Japanese ballads sung as an accompaniment to shamisen), local dance performances and folk songs depicting stories during the Aizu domain.
With an impressive history, a traditional Japanese atmosphere, delicious meals and tranquil surroundings, Mukaitaki is definitely worth a stay at for those interested in visiting the Aizu region!