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Ryokojin Sanso 旅行人山荘

Kirishima Onsen

Kirishima Onsen (霧島温泉) is the ideal gateway for hiking around the Kirishima Geopark. The rather small village is composed of a few old hotels, a Lawson and a small tourist office with a restaurant. Along the road there are many holes bellowing an utterly unpleasant sulphurous steam. There is not much to do in the onsen town itself, apart from taking a walk to the waterfall and a hike around the village. The idea is to relax in your own onsen hotel after spending a day in the Geopark, which is what we did.

Illustration showing holes coming out of the ground at Kirishima Onsen

Illustration showing the steam generation processes at work in Kirishima Onsen, © random japanese signs generator


Ryokojin Sanso is located on a hill 2 km from Kirishima Onsen. We arrived at Kirishima Onsen Station by bus from Kagoshima Airport (25 min). The bus station is situated right in front of the tourist office (open until 17:00), where they can give a call to the hotel for a car to pick you up. You can use this service any time during your stay.

Sunset view at Ryokojin Sanso

Sunset view at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

A room with a view

A bit old school ’80 style but for sure very comfortable and cosy. It has sunny rooms, all overlooking the valley and the distant Sakurajima, which counts among the most active volcanos worldwide.

The garden underneath was visited repeatedly by wild deer during our stay. Big glass doors gave entrance to the terrace from which we could enjoy the view whilst sipping our aperitif after the long hikes.

Ryokojin Sanso garden view

Ryokojin Sanso garden view, © Rekall

Ryokojin Sanso terrace view

Ryokojin Sanso terrace view, © Rekall

Private onsen amongst lots of greenery

The hotel is situated on a hill, surrounded by forest and gardens in which the rotenburo’s are scattered around. What makes this place exceptional is that all baths are bookable for private use – so you need to book a 45 minutes slot in advance. When your time comes the hotel staff hands you over the key and shows you the location of the bath. To access the baths you need to get out of the hotel in slippers and walk in the garden or on a hill. The path is well lit and everything is being taken care of. You can only book one private bath per day – so check the foto’s on their website and decide which one you prefer in advance. We really loved the Hinoki and Akamatsu baths in the woods, but the public onsen’s view was unbeatable, especially for sunset. Check more foto’s on their site for more details.

There are two open-air baths in the woods opposite the ryokan, one in the woods in the garden area, and a gender separated public bath in the building itself, exchanging daily between man and woman. There is also a foot bath in the garden; all of these public baths can be used at anytime.

Akamatsu no Yu at Ryokojinn Sanso

Akamatsu no Yu at Ryokojinn Sanso, © Rekall

Hinoki no Yu at Ryokojin Sanso

Hinoki no Yu at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

Footbath at Ryokojin Sanso

Foot-bath at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall


We stayed there for 3 nights. The first night we got seated next to the window glass panel overlooking Sakurajima. Dinner and breakfast are all kaiseki (a fixed multi-course menu), very tasty.

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

Kaiseki dinner at Ryokojin Sanso, © Rekall

Practical info

We last visited in March 2020.