When in Japan, I suggest that you “go traditional” and stay in a Ryokan (traditional inn) for at least 1 night or more. Featuring tatami-matted rooms, futons for beds, ofuro (communal baths), usually fed by onsens (hot springs), and large entrance halls where guests can relax and socialize, these traditional inns have existed since the 8th century AD. It’s a memorable cultural experience you won’t want to miss.
If you have an upstairs room like mine, you will be navigating a short staircase to reach a downstairs shared bathroom…(Not sure if they have rooms with private baths – this is a historic building and it remains in its original form.)
Ask for a room with a view. Re-posting this pic as it gets cut off in the feature area above.
The communal bath has specific hours split between male & female visitors (not the most convenient aspect). It’s pleasant, but indoors. Note: Be sure to follow proper Japanese etiquette when visiting an communal bath house. Wash yourself thoroughly first, using the bucket and the ladle or cup. Once clean, you may proceed to immerse yourself. (Also, it’s not for the shy – it’s nude soaking. No cameras or cell phones allowed. And, as with all of Japan, be mindful that this is a quiet and respectful culture.)
(Visited an outdoor onsen later in my trip and enjoyed a hot soak surrounded by green vegetation with the refreshing rain drizzle cooling my face and shoulders.) And no, I don’t have pictures of that – see the no cameras rule above.)
Suffice to say that I enjoyed my total immersion at the Fukuzumiro – Ryokan. It’s conveniently close-by (scenic train ride you catch in walking distance from the inn) to the Hakone Open Air Museum – an absolute “must do” if you’re in the area.