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“This is the room where the Showa [Hirohito] Emperor stayed when he visited here,” the inn’s manager told me.
I was touring the Hatsune room of Sanyo-so, a traditional Japanese inn in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture and, at first, I didn’t realize that the huge suite was all part of one guestroom, which comes complete with three large sleeping/family quarters, as well as its own onsen (hot spring) bath and a private patio that leads out onto Sanyo-so’s gorgeous 100,000-square-foot garden.
The garden, with its scenic location by Shizuoka’s Kano River, is a popular visitor attraction for Japanese locals. It was designed to reflect Japan’s distinct four seasons, with cherry trees blooming in the spring, irises in the summer, brilliantly colored maple leaves in the fall and Japanese plum trees in the winter. Ponds, waterfalls and streams are located throughout the garden, with plenty of places where guests can relax or meditate. The inn can also organize a tea ceremony for day visitors.
Sanyo-so was first built in 1929 as a second home for the son of the founder of the Mitsubishi conglomerate and became an inn in 1947. The inn is a 30-minute taxi ride from the Mishima station, which connects to Tokyo via the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train.
Sanyo-so is owned and operated by Prince Hotels, the same group that runs the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki. Travel professionals can work directly with the Prince Hotels sales office in Los Angeles, making it easy to book the property. Rates start at approximately $700 per night for two people, including breakfast and a traditional Japanese dinner.