Like living in a different world

Because Beppu is a city on a slope at the foot of a mountain, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a great view no matter where you stay. Lodgings along the cost offer even more spectacular views, but the one hotel where every single room has an ocean view is Seikai. What’s more, the each room as a private outdoor bath with onsen water pumped from underground. The rooms face the east, so the water of the bath will be lit by the beautiful pink light of the rising sun.


The onsen on the first floor, Shiosai no Yu, is generally only available to hotel guests, but if you eat the restaurant you are allowed to enter the onsen for free. Because the onsen is so close to the ocean “if you sink your body deep in the water, your line of sight is almost even with the surface of the ocean, so people who come here often say it feels as if you’re bathing in the ocean,” said the onsen attendant. The waves that gently crash on the shore of Shoningahama create the natural ambient background sounds of this onsen.



Next to Seikai in Shoningahama was once the vacation home of Kintarou Kokubu, a man who made his fortune in the dyed fabrics business in Kurume. “Kokubu house was completed in 1927, when many such modern vacation homes were being built in Beppu. After the owner passed away, the Kyushu Electric Company used the house as a sanatorium after the end of the war. Recently a story surfaced that the building was to be torn down. When I heard about that I decided to renovate the house and turn it into a ryokan* in order to preserve this symbol of a bright time in history for future generations,” said the owner of GAHAMA terrace, which opened in on April 27th, 2016. The expansive grounds are dotted with 17 villas.


*A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn.



The name GAHAMA is a reference to the nickname given to Shoningahama by locals, “Gahama”. As for “terrace”, when written in Japanese characters the word terrace is phonetically identical to the word terasu, meaning “to shine”.


The grounds feature six different types of villas, each of course with its own private onsen. The most luxurious of them all is the “Parkside Villa”, with a heated swimming pool, a walk-in closet, and other luxuries.



KUNITAKE Villa is the only villa on the grounds that makes use of the original structure left by the Kokubu house. “Among the many villas this one has the most rooms, and is perfect for families and groups travelling together. The baths are truly quite large — in fact, just yesterday we had a local couple come to stay in one of these rooms.” I noted one part of a wall that looked to be leaning. Apparently the wall became slanted due to a large earthquake that occurred shortly before the ryokan opened. “We could have made the wall straight again, but this is also a part of history, so I decided to leave it as-is. We immediately made some earthquake-resistant alterations, and barely finished in time for the opening.”




The Wing Villa offers an ocean view, and a pathway reaches from the adjacent Shoningahama Park all the way to Beppu Kaihin Sunayu. “Being this close makes it almost feels like the park is your own backyard. Taking a walk through the pines in the park while enjoying the ocean breeze is quite nice.” That reminds me, at the gift shop they sell sketchbooks and colored pencils — sketching the scenery while wandering around the park sounds fun as well. Whichever villa you choose to stay in, the experience is like living in a different world, which is fitting considering the property’s history as a vacation home.




The restaurant is open to all — not just ryokan guests. This French restaurant offers a taste that you won’t find at Seikai, and is popular for its mini course lunch. Their delicious hamburger steak has a hearty texture and is topped with foie gras. Finish off the meal in luxury with a decadent creme brulee torched at the table. Oh, and one more thing — you won’t find any clocks around here, so it’s quite easy to lose track of time.



Shiosai-no-yado seikai / GAHAMA terrace

address[Shiosai-no-yado Seikai] 6-24 Shouningahama, Beppu-shi / [GAHAMA terrace] 5-32 Shouningahama, Beppu-shi
hours[Shiosai-no-yado Seikai] check-in 15:00, check-out 11:00 / Japanese restaurant Gen and Seafood restaurant Eitaro 11:30-14:30 (last order 13:30), 18:00-22:00(last order 21:00) / BAN-YA 11:30-14:30 (last order 13:30) / Sweet Basil 12:00-15:00 / Shiosai SPA Mizuki and Salon R reservations 11:00-21:00 / Shiosai-no-yu -22:00 (only available to restaurant customers) / GAHAMA terrace check-in 15:00, check-out 11:00 / Bistro Vent nouveau 11:30-14:30 (last order 13:30), 18:00-22:00 (last order 21:00)
closed on[Shiosai-no-yado Seikai] varies / [GAHAMA terrace] varies
tel[Shiosai-no-yado seikai] 0977-66-6380 / [GAHAMA terrace] 0977-66-8833
parking[Shiosai-no-yado seikai] 60 spaces / [GAHAMA terrace] 25 spaces
recommended forbeef burger with foie gras (3,025 yen) at Bistro Vent nouveau