The oldest western-style hotel in Japan, the Kanaya first opened its doors to well-heeled Japanese guests and the fledgling western visitor market in 1873. Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Einstein and Helen Keller are amongst the many western luminaries to have signed the hotel register. There is no denying that it is showing its age, but it is a wonderful evocation of an era when western design was all the rage. The western-style main building and a Japanese-style annexe stand side by side in fascinating contrast, and two promenade walks lead up the hill behind the hotel, or down to the river. In the rooms, dressers and furniture are western style but the rest of the interior design is Japanese. Ceilings in the rooms are reminscent of those in Japanese temples and windows have sliding screen 'fusuma' instead of curtains. The restaurant continues the theme with temple-like carved wooden pillars and fascinating antiques are dotted throughout the hotel. In 2014, the second annexe was finally renovated so guests can choose between an antique or modern feel. The hotel is located right by Shinkyo Bridge, the symbolic centre of Nikko, and the recommended corner rooms look toward the Tokugawa shrine and temple complex nearby.
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.Bill Bryson