Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Kashiwaya Ryokan – The Best Place to Stay at Shima Onsen

Great ryokans can be found across Japan, and Kashiwaya (柏屋旅館) in Gunma Prefecture‘s Shima Onsen has taken the classic formula and perfected it! Whilst the food, service, and onsen are all of extremely high quality, what makes them truly exceptional is how accommodating and flexible the ryokan is. Whether it is before or after the renovation in early 2021, Kashiwaya Ryokan is one of the best accommodations in Shima Onsen. The staff there are caring and warmhearted and will try their best to make you feel at home!

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Although it is smaller than other better-known ryokans in the hot spring town, we are sure your time at Kashiwaya Ryokan will be unforgettable. And the great news is that the vegan Kaiseki meals there are deliciously prepared! If you have tattoos, you can enjoy the hot spring at one of their three private baths!

Tip: Check with the ryokan to see if they still rent out bicycles to their guests for free.

Kashiwaya Ryokan’s Guestrooms

If you are a solo traveler, you might find it hard to stay at a ryokan as many of them require a minimum of two people. But this isn’t the case for Kashiwaya! In addition to guestrooms with a private bathtub attached, the ryokan also has single rooms!

Since the pandemic, working remotely has become more common, so if you are lucky to travel around Japan while working, book one of Kashiwaya Ryokan’s single rooms! You can choose from one with a terrace attached or a corner room closest to the private baths!

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Like other ryokans in Japan, a nice yukata is provided for you. When the weather is cold, remember to wear the traditional style jacket, Haori, to get the most out of a ryokan stay!

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And for those who want to stay in a Japanese-style room but are worried about not being able to sleep well, Kashiwaya Ryokan got you covered! While all the guestrooms are Japanese-style, the beds are low beds with extremely comfortable mattresses!

Kashiwaya Ryokan’s Hot Spring Pools

Besides the typical gender-separated public baths, the beautiful traditional ryokan has three lovely decorated private bathrooms. Bathing in their private hot spring tubs will definitely surpass your expectations, as all the private baths are perfectly set, with each surrounded by a little garden.

At night, you can enjoy some quality bathing time with a sky full of stars if the weather is clear. And making your bathing experience a little bit more special, there are traditional umbrellas and straw hats to protect your head from the falling snow or rain.

In winter, the onsen pool forms part of the snow scenery!

While using the private baths without reservation is free, remember to use them courteously. Also, try to limit your bathing time to around 30 minutes for each single-use so that between the time when the private baths are open, everyone at least gets a chance to try out all three of them!

  • The private baths are open from:
    • 3 pm to 1 am
    • 5 am to 11 am
  • Each private onsen also has its private changing room with a sink and heater.
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Tip: If you find the hot spring’s temperature too high, try out another bath. The temperatures are not all the same.

Dinner and Breakfast at Kashiwaya Ryokan

Whether you have a special dietary requirement or not, dining at Kashiwaya will definitely be satisfying. The meals are all nicely prepared, and what makes the ryokan stand out is the accommodating policy where you can sleep in and have brunch at their cafe!

Although it would be a shame to miss out on the amazing Japanese or Western-style breakfast, you are guaranteed to be well-fed even if you slept in!

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Just note that the Kashiwaya Cafe is around a 15 to 20-minute walk from Kashiwaya Ryokan. There is also no vegetarian menu at the cafe.

Reserving Your Stay at Kashiwaya Ryokan and the Ryokan’s Access Information

  • Kashiwaya Ryokan is just a one-minute walk from the bus stop, Seiryu no Yu Iriguchi (清流の湯入口). From the bus stop, Shima Onsen, it is around a 20-minute walk.
  • You can make a reservation through klook!

Kashiwaya Café (四万温泉柏屋カフェ)

Kashiwaya Café is operated by Kashiwaya Ryokan. Like the accommodation facility, the service provided at the cafe is exceptional and the food is top-notch.

Renovating from the old Kashiwaya Clothing Store (柏屋衣料品店), the cafe fits really well with the hot spring town’s Showa-style township. Opened in 2002, Kashiwaya Cafe is a popular attraction in Shima Onsen. Utilizing the space efficiently, the cafe has a small shop selling souvenirs and various miscellaneous goods.

Tip: You most likely don’t need to queue up if you visit the cafe outside of its peak hours from 11:30 am to 2 pm on weekends and public holidays.

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The best seats at Kashiwaya Cafe are located on the second floor. The natural light coming in through the counter window compliments the dim lighting, perfect for the cafe’s traditional setting. There is also a semi-private room with a sofa as part of the table set. We recommend searching for that room if you visit Kashiwaya Cafe with a group of people (^_-)-☆.

There are seats with a river view too!

While there is no savory vegetarian light meal menu available, a morning or afternoon tea at Kashiwaya Cafe is recommended, as their baked cheesecake is the best! All of their cakes and desserts are handmade. For the drink, get a cup of cappuccino with an Onsen symbol made from high-quality home-roasted beans!

How to Get to Kashiwaya Café

  • Kashiwaya Café is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
    • The last order is taken at 4:30 pm.
    • Light meals are served until 3 pm.
  • Refer to the cafe’s calendar HERE. It won’t open on days that are marked “柏屋カフェ定休”.
  • Kashiwaya Café is just opposite the bus stop, Kiri no Kidaira (桐の木平) or a 5-minute walk from the bus stop, Shima Onsen (四万温泉).

Shima Terrace (シマテラス)

In 2022, Kashiwaya Group opened the third facility at Shima Onsen. This time it is a terrace cafe-style Pizzeria that also sells freshly baked bread and sweets. Like Kashiwaya Cafe, Shima Terrace also serves freshly brewed coffee from home-roasted beans. But instead of giving out a traditional vibe, the two-story stylish cafe has a terrace facing the Shima River (四万川). Even sitting indoors, you still have the Riverview through the glass panels. Enhancing the outdoor adventure vibe, canoe and fishing gear are used as a part of the internal decoration, which creates a relaxing ambiance.

In addition, Shima Terrace is a spot in Shima Onsen for vegans and vegetarians to enjoy lunch! The stone oven-baked pizzas made from fresh local ingredients are the best! A cup of coffee with a chiffon cake will be an excellent finish!

If you like fizzy drinks or beer, their Shima Blue range (四万ブルー) has a gorgeous color and is delicious (^_-)-☆.

Tip: Check with the staff to see if you can sample their top-selling bread.

How to Get to Shima Terrace

  • Shima Terrace is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm except for Tuesdays and the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
  • Shima Terrace is just a one-minute walk from the bus stop, Kiri no Kidaira (桐の木平) or a 5-minute walk from the bus stop, Shima Onsen (四万温泉).

Adore the Shima-Blue Color Nearby

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In addition to the level of service that Shimakawa Ryokan offers, it is close to a couple of spots where you can admire the color of what is known as Shima-Blue. So how about taking a walk down the Shima River after checking in or during the morning?

For more information, refer to our article on Shima Potholes, Momotarō Falls, and Shima Lake!

Discover Other Attractions at Shima Onsen

Now that you have sorted your accommodation, it is time to find out where in the hot spring town is worth your time. Aside from the natural attractions, Shima Onsen has a couple of historical and cultural spots you might be interested in visiting. Furthermore, a ryokan is rumored to be the stage of the Ghibli movie Spirited Away!

So refer to our Shima Onsen article for where else to stop by while at the onsen town, including a couple of delicious places to try out!

Click the photo for more travel ideas at Shima Onsen!