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“Best Ryokan during our trip to Japan!”
Review of Kankaso

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Kankaso
Ranked #24 of 63 Hotels / Ryokan in Nara
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Best Ryokan during our trip to Japan!”
Reviewed 4 May 2013

We stayed in 4 different ryokans during our trip to Japan, different price categories, and Kankaso was by far the best! It is a bit more expensive than average, but the value you get is amazing. First of all, it is located close to all the Nara sites, while preserving tranquility in its garden. Second, the garden and the buillding, including the room is as traditional as it gets and beautiful. It is managed by a an elderly couple - they are very friendly and apparently the husband can cook - and HOW! We had our most amazing kaiseki meal of the whole trip and we did eat excellent during our trip in general. The dinner was served in our room, which is a very exclusive tradition and a rarity these days. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, in the morning we were invited into a beautiful room where an unbelievable traditional Japanese breakfast spread was served.... no words.... If you only had one night to spend at a ryokan, I say make it Kankaso.

Room Tip: Ask for the room facing the garden.
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Julia_van_Bommel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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65 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
London
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 April 2013

My wife and I stayed at Kankaso for two nights in early April 2013.

First things first, I would recommend Kankaso without hesitation, for all the reasons laid out below. However, it is expensive (we paid £600 for two nights, 12 tatami, priovate bathroom, two breakfasts, one dinner). If you want to experience a comfortable, well-run ryokan serving superb food in a beautiful location then it is worth every penny. This is a place to really cherish your accomodation in, not one to use simply as a bed at night after exploring the area and having dinner/drinks out.

The location is perfect. It is within Nara Koen, within a hop skip and jump of Todai-ji and the big buddha and close to so many of the other beautiful temples and shrine within the park.

Our room was lovely, very spacious and comfortable, with chairs to relax in with a view of the front garden. We had private access to the large baths (I think there were not many people staying the first night we were there), plus a smaller wooden bath in our room.

The food here was spectacular. We only had dinner the first night (to save a little expense) but it was unforgettable. Certainly the most elaborate meal we had in our two weeks in Japan, it consisted of many 15 separate courses, each one beautifully crafted and very tasty. There were a lot of items that were foreign to an English couple (some of which we couldn't identify even after tasting it and asking what it was!), but everything (bar perhaps one fruit/nut-like item) was delicious. The only thing that took us by surprise is that we were offered beer or sake, which we duly accepted, which was then added to our bill. At around £150 for two people to have dinner, and given the way it was offered, we'd expected this to be included in the cost. For the record, dinner is very expensive, but it's certainly worth trying for one night of your stay - please don't miss it!

Breakfast, like dinner, consisted of many courses - fish, rice, tofu, pickles, miso, etc. It was even more of a foreign concept to have all this for breakfast, but it was tasty, it was substantial, and it set us up really well for a day of walking around the park.

Fortunately, Nara is not that large. As a result, there is not very much to see of the town outside of the beautiful park with its shrines, temples, etc. (although there is a lot within the park!) This works well as you could easily spend a whole day lazing around Kankaso - bathing first thing in the morning, taking a long, leisurely breakfast, another bath, a nap, another bath, a rest in the garden with a book, your evening meal, another bath and a rest before bed.

To reiterate, I would not hesitate to recommend this place. If you plan to relax and take it easy in Nara, go for it. If, though, you're looking purely for accomodation in between busy days out and about, there may be better budget options around.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Tom L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berlin, Germany
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 March 2013 via mobile

We started our three weeks in Japan here - and such a great place to get over the jet lag. Very relaxing, even though it's just a few steps from the tourist hustle outside. Both dinner and breakfast was traditional - maybe a bit too traditional for the faint of heart, with a lot of unusual tastes for a westerner. Great baths after a day out. Beautiful garden. And excellent service from our hostess, doing her best with english as we havent learned any japanes yet.

Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank mb10000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 February 2013

This ryokan was recommended to us by the booking service, Japanese Guest Houses, and we couldn't be happier that they directed us here. The location is truly exceptional, being right in the heart of Nara Park, a few paces from Todaiji Gate. The hoardes of tourists and friendly deer make the park a busy place, but walking through the gate to Kankaso feels like entering a hidden oasis of calm. We were lucky enough to be the only guests on the night of our stay, and were assigned a stunning ground floor room with expansive views onto the beautiful moss garden through large glass windows, and a lovely en-suite bathroom with deep wooden tub and shower. The kaiseki meal we had here was our best meal in over 2 weeks in Japan (and food was a major focus of our trip). Our delightful host, Aya-san, immediately understood our interest in the food and kindly translated each course in some detail, running back to the chef for any clarification. We didn't want to leave and will definitely return here on our next trip to Japan. This was also an unusually great value ryokan stay, comparing room and meal quality with the others on our trip.

  • Stayed October 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank kavey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rome, Italy
Level 6 Contributor
348 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 182 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 January 2013

The ryokan is located off a busy street leading to the Tojiama temple and its great Buddha amongst other marvels. Set back in its own Zen garden behind gates meant to keep out the "wild" (but really rather tame) deer, it used to be the lodgings of monks and still proudly displays many scrolls and sculptures.
My son had a room with private bathroom (shower and typically deep and narrow bath tub), I had access to the beautiful antique-furnished dining room where we had breakfast in the monings.
The public baths were very clean and had lovely garden views and I never encountered anyone else there, in fact our whole stay was like a private experience.
We were welcomed with afternoon tea (matcha and a sweet then green tea) every time we came back to the ryokan to catch our breath between excursions.
Breakfast was beautifully served up and very tasty, with special mention for the New Year spread with lucky gold flakes on everything and even sake - we weren't offered any extra rice as I'd got used to in other ryokan but one bowlful was enough given everything else!
The maid / waitress was exceedingly courteous and helpful. The woman who took the payment when we left was a little haughty and cold - perhaps she's the owner and doesn't feel like kowtowing to tourists?
Highly recommended anyway, the place is beautiful, great service and priceless location. But just a word of warning - the whole area shuts down at night so don't hope to get dinner within walking distance so if you haven't ordered it at the ryokan be prepared to catch a cab into Nara city centre - there are plenty of decent restaurants around Kintetsu station, a 5 mns ride away.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank brancusirocks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 6 Contributor
177 reviews
94 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 December 2012

Wonderful welcome in a very traditional ryokan. Mama-san, the hostess, is the most gracious lady to host foreigners in Japan. Perfect experience, including a very large room, a great 7-meal dinner, the best traditional Japanese "hot" bath I have ever had, all that with a very serene garden view in the Nara park. A dream!!

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Bernard L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore
Level 6 Contributor
269 reviews
238 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 585 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 December 2012

Even as recession is looming in the horizon, I scrimp on western hotels in Wakayama and Osaka, staying in 15-18 sqm small rooms so that my parents and I could 'roll the boat out' and stay two nights at the authentic and lovely, Kankaso Ryokan in Nara. No regrets or whatsoever!

This was my 5th ryokan stay (3 in Kyoto and 1 in Miyajima) and the first for my parents. I would rate this ryokan's location to be among the very best in Nara as its located on the main walking path (no cars!) towards the Nandaimon and famed Todaiji. Sandwiched between gift shops and little restaurants, it was a heaven of peace once you enter its private grounds!

Having arrived by train and cab from Wakayama at 10am, we left our luggage behind and started exploring Nara. We then had a late lunch at its adjoining restaurant and checked into the Ryokan at 3pm sharp. We had two meals at its adjoining restaurant, with good food at reasonable pricing (most affordable in the neighborhood, trust me!).

We roughly paid 25,000 yen (before 5% tax) for each person, two meals a day on our first night of stay and only 17,000 yen each person for the second night with breakfasts only. Though not cheap if you compare it with western hotel's small and character-less rooms, but good value if compared it with other nearby modern and traditional ryokans. You will probably be shocked at the prices charged by other ryokans in Nara ....

And to our surprise, we were being assigned to me, some of the best rooms in the ryokan - my parents stayed in the 8+4 tatami detached house (number 24), linked to the main building via a small cosy bridge while I stayed in a 8 tatami one in room number 22. The detached house faced the main front garden and has its own private cypress wood bathtub and shower area, as well as, toilet facilities. Very quiet indeed!

As for my own room, I only have a wash basin and toilet but the three common bathrooms is just next to my room and I could bathe in completely privacy, with permission from Aya san. My room faced the ryokan's back gardens and I could occasionally hear school children laughing in the near distance during the day. After 7 or 8pm, it was all quiet but even in the day, the slight muffled noises does not bother me and I could even catch a nap. There was a TV with only Japanese channels, safe, toiletries (no body lotion though), toothbrush with paste, yukatas, socks, slippers in the room. Shower caps in the common bathrooms only.

The Kankaso has 5 rooms on the ground level and 3 on the second level. The biggest room seems to be room 26 on the second floor but room 25 (8 tatami with an extra small entrance area) on the second floor is also quite nice - could hear the river gushing and children laughing away ... The ryokan even has free Wifi in its lobby area but the signals are somewhat weaker in my room 22. No complaints but full of praises for the well maintained and charming ryokan.

Breakfasts was great and you could choose between Westernized or Japanese one. Dinner, is a 11 course feast .... beautifully presented and very tasty indeed. Though my parents are not so keen in Japanese food but being a lover of the food myself, I found its quality rather high and very tasty. And the ever hard working and pleasant Aya san did her best to please and take good care of us, domo arigato!

After a memorable two nights stay in Nara, we took the JR train to our final destination, Osaka. And the reason why our 3 cities 6 nights holiday has become so memorable, its due mainly to the fact that we had stayed in the lovely Kankaso in Nara, a very genuine and authentic Japanese traditional ryokan. Arigato to the Management as well as Aya san of Kankaso.

Room Tip: Either the detached room number 24 or 8 tatami rooms, number 22 or 25.
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  • Stayed November 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank JChua
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kankaso

Property: Kankaso
Address: 10 Kasugano-cho, Nara 630-8212, Nara Prefecture
Region: Japan > Kinki > Nara Prefecture > Nara
Hotel Style:
Ranked #24 of 63 Hotels / Ryokan in Nara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 9
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