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Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan hotel. Source: 金田 哲郎 / Adobe Stock.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan: The World’s Oldest Hotel (Video)

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At the world's oldest hotel, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, tradition and modernity intertwine to create a unique experience. For over 1300 years, guests have been drawn to its crystal-clear hot water baths, managed by an unbroken lineage of 52 generations within the same family. Contrary to expectations of a living museum frozen in time, the hotel has adapted to the 21st century, embracing change and innovation. While maintaining traditional elements like futon beds and Japanese-style dining, the building has undergone numerous updates. Wi-Fi and a gift shop cater to contemporary needs, and new hot springs were excavated in 2005, increasing the water supply significantly.

Yet, defining the hotel as the "oldest business" has become complex due to cultural differences in the concept of "business" over a millennium ago. Furthermore, the transfer of ownership from Kongo Gumi to a larger corporation raises questions about its continuous status as an independent entity. Such intricacies challenge neat categorizations, revealing that longevity comes with asterisks. As the world evolves, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan stands as a testament to embracing change while preserving its timeless heritage.

Top image: Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan hotel. Source: 金田 哲郎 / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

 
Robbie Mitchell's picture

Robbie

I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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