Although comfort and reception quality has improved over the past few years, spending a night in a mountain lodge in Japan is often an experience that you don’t want to repeat twice. Expensive (about 9000yens including dinner and breakfast), accommodation conditions are often simply unacceptable. Sometime dirty, food not always good they are often over-crowded. A lot of mountain lodges accept more reservations than they have space and welcome people without any reservation on top of that. You easily end-up three persons sleeping side-ways in staggered rows on the same bed. To be correct you end-up not slipping sandwiched between two other persons. In most cases if you want some comfort when trekking in Japan it’s better to camp.
But last week-end I found the exception to the rule. I was organizing a snowshoeing week-end for friends in Kusatsu-Shiranesan (草津白根山). While searching on the web I found out that Yoshigadaira lodge (芳ヶ平ヒュッテ) was opened all year around and though it would be better to stay there than going back down in a hotel in the valley. We were all charmed by the place.
Clients are warmly welcomed and the owners take care of their clients. It’s a complete different story with Northen Alps lodges where they get you in and out as quick as they can. The atmosphere is carefully thought out, warm and relaxing.
Sitting next to the wood stove, jazz flows in the lounge and rocks you under petrol lamps lights.
It is also clean and have hot shower (it’s the only lodge in Japan that I know with proper shower facility). Taking a shower is in fact mandatory for the for beds hygiene.
Located in a calm and remote place at the bottom of the Kusatsu-Shirane volcano, on the side of the Yoshigadaira marsh, the setting is pleasant. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing week-end away for busy megalopolis. A piece of even, a place unique in Japan. It would be a crime for mountain enthusiast not to spend a night in what is simply the best mountain lodge in Japan.
Open all year. Reservation mandatory. You have to make reservation at least a week in advance for the owner to buy food accordingly. As it is the only lodge opened all year around and the area is easily accessed using the ski resort, you should better reserve way in advance.