News Paper Article

“THE OBSERVER” British news paper (MAY 04, 2008)


In the onsen hotspot of Hakone, Fuji is an ever-popular choice. It is run by the friendly English-speaking Takahashi family: guests get a small tatami room and access to the hot spring baths.

Dinner not available.

News paper article


A Hakone house for budget travelers from around the world.

Set far back from the road in the Sengokuhara highlands , tourists visiting nearby Hakone attraction such as Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands are not likely to notice the Fuji-Hakone Guest House. In reality , however , the inn hosts an average of 4,000 people per year from around the world.

The person responsible for its popularity among tourists – about 70 percent of whom are not Japanese – is Masami Takahashi , who , along with his wife , has operated the twelve-room inn for 16 years.
Hotels and ryokan in the Hakone area normally costs as much as \20,000 or more for a night’s accommodation with two meals , well out of range for most budget travelers.
“I wanted to create a facility where ordinary foreign travelers can stay,” Takahashi said.

At Fuji-Hakone Guest House , the price is \5000-\5500,depending on the season and the room. This does not include meals , but the inn can provide breakfast for \800 upon request. It has a hot-spring bath whose waters flow directly from the Owakudani valley.
Before opening the inn , Takahashi worked in the publishing industry and was involved in the launch of Tokyo Journal magazine. He has also worked in the international exchange field. Although he was an amateur in the hotel business , he had a sense of what foreign guests expected.

“Since I grew up in Hakone , it was natural for my colleagues to ask if they could stay in my house , so , my family frequently offered ‘home stays’ ” he giggled.

The small inn is publicized in several foreign guidebooks on Japan , along with well known hotels , such as the Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita.
It is funny that we are rarely carried in Japanese-language ,” he said.

Operating the inn for 16 years has provided Takahashi many experiences with difficult cultures.”I was prepared for various circumstances , but I was pretty shocked when one customer let the water out of the bath ,” he recalled. Since then , he has posted instructions on how to use the Japanese bath in the bathroom.

Takahashi said he was trying to make the area more friendly for foreign tourists.
“What we have been doing is just treating customers in our own way. That is , we focus on hospitality , ” he said.