Hot spring inn, founded in 704, has fallen on hard times.

The Keiunkan hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture gets its name because it was opened in the second year of the Keiun period. So when was the first year of the Keiun period? 704.

Yes, Keiunkan received its first guests way back in 705, and the ryokan (Japanese inn) has been open ever since. In the centuries it’s been in business, it’s had some pretty prestigious visitors, and we’re not just talking about movie stars, recording artists, or other modern celebrities. The hotel’s collected guest list of those who came for a soak in Keiunkan’s hot spring baths is said to include Takeda Shingen, the samurai warlord who ruled Yamanashi in the 16th century, when the region was still called Kai, and also Tokugawa Ieyasu, who started the final shogun dynasty that would rule Japan for 265 years.

We spent a night at Keiunkan ourselves a while back, and came away thoroughly impressed by what the Guinness World Record association has certified as the oldest hotel in the world. But while the accommodations may be radiant, things aren’t looking so bright in ledgers of the hotel and its affiliated companies.

In 2005, the inn was renovated to add a private, free-flowing hot spring bath to each and every guestroom. However, the costly project, followed by a slump in reservations and strong competition from less expensive inns in the area, has hurt the hotel’s bottom line, with its sales falling by nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2016.

In 2017, Yushima, the company that had managed Keiunkan, decided to restructure and establish a new company called Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, transferring the Keiunkan hotel to it. Things haven’t gone so well for Yushima, though. Last summer Yushima’s shareholders decided to dissolve the company, and as of January 8 the Tokyo District Court has ordered it to begin liquidation.

Thankfully, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, and the hotel itself, are still in business, though the inn expects to find itself in the red yet again this fiscal year, in part due to disrupted travel patterns following severe typhoons during the latter half of 2018. Still even as Yushima’s liquidation begins, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan president Kenjiro Kawano said that the company hopes to “Continue operating a single ryokan and preserving its traditions, while working hard to improve its hot spring, cuisine, and service.”

Related: Keiunkan
Sources: Tokyo Shoko Research, Sankei Biz
Photos ©SoraNews24