Kokian operates as an oasis of serenity in the city of Yamaguchi. After driving past the surrounding buildings and hotels in this popular hot spring resort area, it’s a surprise to step into the crisp open spaces of the silent lobby. Through the glass, grass seems to glow green in the sunlight. Lining the lawn sits a row of comfortable seats for ashiyu, hot springs specifically to warm and relax your feet.
Open ceilings and the fireplace at the center of the lobby infuse the space with a holiday feel. For me, it conjures up images of a beach house blended with a chalet, combining two of my favorite holiday spots. Once in the lobby, the traffic and bustle of the streets outside seems a distant memory.
Seated in the comfortable lounge overlooking the garden, calm just washes in, even if it’s only for a few moments before being escorted to my private sanctuary deeper in the ryokan.
The room is generous in size, and the view of the garden adds to the air of spaciousness of the interior. The large windows open onto a small pool, and a cozy hot spring bath overlooks the enclosed garden full of trees. Cleverly concealed by the strategically placed greenery, you’d never guess the ryokan is surrounded by buildings.
The serene outside area is perfectly complemented by a spacious open plan room separated into living, lounge, and bedroom areas. A low table for dining, reading or board games sits in the center, while the lounge sofa and massage chair are so comfortable you will have to muster some will power to drag yourself away.
If this isn’t all relaxing enough, let the expert hands of one of the spa therapists take you to a place of bliss. The rejuvenating services include an assortment of aromatherapy, massage, and hot spring treatments that are crafted to help lose yourself in that zone between euphoria and slumber.
The main bathing facilities offer more space to spread out and relax than the more intimate smaller tubs in each room. Kokian’s onsen water is also unusual in that it doesn’t carry the strong odors which accompany some other volcanic hot springs, allowing you to fully soak in benefits of the water, relaxing for as long as you want without having to tolerate that distinct sulphuric aroma.
Kokian’s restaurant offers seasonal delicacies, as well as a full blowfish course meal for anyone looking to experience the world-famous, regional speciality. What’s more you can choose to dine in the intimacy of a private room, the bright and airy restaurant surrounding the grassy courtyard, or when the weather beckons, taking your meal on the terrace. Whatever the location, you are sure to be impressed with the delicately constructed meals made from the finest of local ingredients.
You simply can’t go wrong with anything cuisine-related at a traditional style Japanese inn, and Kokian’s attention to detail and emphasis on quality will leave you wanting for nothing.
Despite the variety of luxurious options for spending your time in Kokian, the simplicity of plush lounge chairs set out on the lawn seem most inviting to me to take as I take in all this oasis in the city has to offer. Although, it won’t be too long before I head for a swim in my private pool, which is sure to be followed by relaxing into the wooden tub as I watch my courtyard treetops dance in the wind and contemplate the multi-course gourmet dinner that will headline my evening.
Photographs by Julian Littler & Kokian Text by Julian Littler