Breakfast and dinner are included in the Jetsetter rate; dinner features exceptional seasonal Nagano cuisine and wines
Every room has a lake view, with rocking chairs and reading nooks facing panoramic windows
Development was banned after the area’s national park designation, so the hotel enjoys an exclusive isolation
Short and long-distance hiking trails that loop through the forest and to the lakeside
What To Know
The property is open only seasonally (April through November)
From Tokyo it's a two-and-a-half hour bullet train ride to the local station (Kurohime); transfers to/from the station are included in the rate
The location is remote, so take care with arrangements for train times, car rentals and hotel shuttle requests
Front desk offers a free shuttle to/from a nearby golf course and hot springs
Parking on site
Disclaimer: This content was accurate at the time the hotel was reviewed. Please check our partner sites when booking to verify that details are still correct.
Secluded 50-room retreat on the forested shores of Lake Nojiri, less than three hours from Tokyo
Lauded Japanese architect Kiyoshi Seike designed this secluded boutique hotel nearly 30 years ago amid the dense forests of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, overlooking Lake Nojiri. And despite partial renovations in 2008, guestrooms and communal areas maintain Seike’s original Midcentury design. High ceilings and panoramic windows, and a palette of complementary colors such as mustard-yellow, chartreuse and deep purple, shift the eye outside and beyond to the water’s edge, all while accentuating the deep, calming greens of the surrounding forest. Natural materials, including local oak and pine and shigaraki (a Japanese brick), enhance the organic atmosphere.
Bed and Bath
There are eight room types, each slightly different in layout but with the same comfortable retro design. Furnishings such as custom rocking chairs (by renowned designer Riki Watanabe, "the Charles Eames of Japan”) and plush sofabeds encourage introspection, not just comfort. There are large flat-screen TVs, but reading feels like the natural course of action once the curtains are pulled back to reveal the floor-to-ceiling windows. Bathrooms are unremarkable, but amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soap) are provided, and there are hallway vending machines for water, soda and beer.
The vast beauty of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park is the star of the show here at El Bosco, and the property has access to two lovely hiking trails that wind down to quiet spots on the shores of the lake. Nagano’s countryside is famed for apples and blueberries, and the on-site restaurant, Moment, uses the freshest local fare, from domestic sirloin to mountain asparagus. Breakfast and dinner are included in the rate, which is another bonus. The dining room and adjacent lounge both feature stunning walls of windows and are ideal for breakfast (Western and Eastern) or afternoon tea. A small bar, Soba, is open every night.
In the Area
After the overstimulation of an international flight and the capital's mobbed train station, El Bosco guests are encouraged to simply tune out Tokyo, open a book and enjoy the silence of the forest. However, there are various recreational activities available for more active travelers. El Bosco offers a free shuttle to the nearby Myoko Kogen Golf Club and Kohukan hot springs, and several lakeside activities, from fishing trips and lake cruises to waterskiing and kiteboarding, can be arranged at the front desk — but transport is not included. Joshinetsu Kogen National Park also provides myriad options for hikers, nordic walkers and naturalists.