There are hotels that are meant to be bases from which to explore the world beyond their walls, and then there are those where one simply goes to escape. River Retreat Garaku, as you might surmise from the name, falls decidedly into the latter category. Though the natural environment around Toyama is hardly devoid of charm, the built environment of Garaku itself is nothing short of sublime.
In contrast with the sensory bombardment of the city, River Retreat Garaku plays that particularly Japanese trick of paring everything down to a few cleanly presented elements: the sound and sight of the Jinzu River flowing below, the steam rising from the spring-fed baths, and the magnificent collection of contemporary Japanese art that dots the grounds. And it’s hard to say where the art ends and the architecture begins — plenty of hotels indulge in design theatrics, but Garaku is an architectural masterpiece.
The owner is a serious collector of contemporary Japanese ceramics, and it’s clear that the Retreat’s aesthetic focus is anything but an afterthought. One of the two restaurants features an entire wall of plaques by Ogawa Machiko, one of Japan’s best-known female ceramic artists. And both restaurants reward attention to what’s on the plate — the cuisine may be more casual than the ryokan standard, but the product is still outstanding.
Please note: River Retreat Garaku is closed on Wednesdays.
How to get there: River Retreat Garaku is approximately 15 minutes by car from Toyama airport.
- 25 Rooms
- Style: Modern Design
- Atmosphere: Quiet
- River Retreat Garaku
- 56-2, Kasuga
- Toyama-shi, Toyama-ken, Japan
Hotel amenities and services
- Central air conditioning
- Free wi-fi