In the age of ‘super’ hotels, it is reassuring that the traditional Japanese inn, the ryokan still flourishes. Nunoya, situated on Nakamachi Street in Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture and recommended by Lonely Planet, is one of these great bastions of Japanese hostelry.
Established over 80 years ago, Nunoya embodies some of the traditional charms that have visitors (domestic and overseas) flocking to this beautiful city. Stepping into Nunoya is like stepping back in time. It's wooden walls, it's smell of tatami - traditional Japanese straw mats - and even the delightfully nostalgic televisions in the rooms all create a feeling of a bygone age.
Its location could not be more ideal: it is within walking distance of all Matsumoto's places of interest, such as Matsumoto Castle, the Museum of Art famous for Yayoi Kusama's installations, and more importantly, the bus and train stations; and strolling to and from the ryokan along Nakamachi street is a pleasure in itself, as the street is famous for its charming shops and kura - traditional Japanese warehouses which are a true symbol of the town's rich heritage.
Despite its age, you will find the ryokan in immaculate condition, clean and warm; bedrooms bright and well-furnished, and the onsen-style bathroom spacious. It doesn't serve breakfasts or have internet access but a number of cafes and wi-fi spots are just around the corner; and food can be brought back, heated and eaten in the communal living and dining room.
Yet it is the owner who is the real secret of Nunoya's enduring popularity. Ever helpful, she goes out of her way to make your stay as comfortable as possible and is willing to personally arrange lodgings for your next port of call. Nunoya is more than a place to stay, it provides an unforgettable cultural experience.