Pet Friendly Hotels in Snow Country

By Matt Klampert

It is true that accommodation in Japan sometimes have a reputation for strict rules – use of indoor and outdoor shoes, rules restricting guests with tattoos, and traveling with pets. Ryokan generally are known for their immaculate cleanliness as well as places where you can spend time in peace and quiet, but more recently, travelers with pets are sometimes at a loss as to where they can stay. While there are “pet hotels” meant just for pet boarding, here are some places where you can stay with your pet together.

A pet-centered vacation at Daikokukan

There are many big hotels and quaint ryokan lining Minakami’s central onsen street, but one in particular is wholly unique. As you can see by the dog-shaped sign out front, the ryokan Daikokukan is wholly centered around pets- to the extent that guests without pets are not allowed here!

The success story behind the first “Pet Ryokan” in Minakami

Daikokukan has a long history, and first opened as a more typical ryokan back in 1931. Their transformation to what exists now is all thanks to one Golden Retriever named Love, who was adopted by Daikokukan owners Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki more than 20 years ago. While walking their dog one day they met a Labrador Retriever – and their owner- who was looking for a place in Minakami where they could stay the night. In 2001, the hotel began allowing pets, first in three rooms in a designated floor in the ryokan, but as demand increased the pets and their owners gradually took up more and more of the inn, until Daikokukan became entirely “pets only” just two years later.

Now, human guests can stay at Daikokukan with up to seven furry friends at a time! More than 90% of the pets who stay at Daikokukan are dogs both big and small, but the inn also accepts cats, rabbits, foxes, birds, and more. Unfortunately, however, snakes and other reptiles are not allowed. This hotel is made up of 6 floors with 17 rooms in all, each with a great view of Mt. Tanigawa, the symbol of Minakami.

Rules for staying at Daikokukan

The rules for staying at Daikokukan are simpler than you might think: they simply ask their guests to handle their pets the same as if they were in their own home, and to manage their pets with consideration to the other guests staying at the ryokan. Although strangers at most ryokan don’t typically talk to one another, here it is the opposite, and this creates a rather laid back and friendly environment. For owners with dogs, remember to bring a leash and a valid rabies vaccination certificate. The ryokan keeps cages to lend, but guests are not required to use them.

The owners of Daikokukan think about the comfort of pets as well as pet owners. The rooms will remind you of most Japanese ryokan, with the notable exception being the pawprint design on the tatami! The hotel has both a spacious indoor playroom as well as an outdoor dog run. At the restaurant, dogs can eat with their people: menu options include steak, chicken tenderloin, meuniere, and more. While dogs are not allowed in the human onsen, there is a separate dog onsen located right outside the entrance. For more information about onsen in YUKIGUNI, click HERE.

Planning your pet friendly vacation in Minakami

Besides just the hotel itself, there are plenty of interesting places to go around Minakami with your beloved furry friends. Nearby Daikokukan is the dog café Campfire, and a pet friendly pizzeria called La Bierre. As Minakami is known for their outdoor activities during the green season, you and your canine loved ones can go canoeing together, and to local parks like Yubara Onsen Park and Seiryu Park. People who come to Minakami can enjoy seeing the cherry blossoms at Suwakyo Gorge.

Angel Grandia – An all-inclusive resort near the slopes

While walking around downtown Yuzawa it probably won’t be long before you see some big purple buses. These go to the resort hotel Angel Grandia in Yuzawa’s Nakasato area. This fifteen-floor hotel has a whopping 270 rooms and all the amenities one could ask for, including a pool, kid’s playroom, workout center, a 24-hour hot spring, and a buffet restaurant. There is even a convenience store inside the lobby!

Angel Grandia offer spacious accommodation that mix both Western and Japanese styles and can accommodate groups of up to seven people. There are standard Western style rooms, Ryokan-style rooms, and so-called “Wa-yoshitu” which combine the best of East and West: you will be surprised to see rooms with tatami floors and beautiful shoji paper windows in a resort hotel! Additionally, there are special family rooms for guests traveling with small children. All rooms have refrigerators and microwaves, and some have full kitchens (though you will need to bring your own pots and pans), and always with great views of the ski slopes and mountains nearby.

Angel Grandia created their pet hotel “Wanderful” in 2016. Now, they have guests with dogs come in every day during the peak season. Guests need to bring dog food and a leash. Please note that you need to reserve Wanderful in addition to your own stay. Inquiries should be made by phone, and during peak seasons there are staff available to handle reservations in English and Chinese.

Hotel New Greenpia – A Gateway to a Geopark

Hotel New Greenpia is by far the largest accommodation in the remote town of Tsunan. This resort hotel is located amidst the picturesque river terraces of Maibara at an altitude of 500 meters with a great view of Mt. Naeba, and is truly massive, with enough space for approximately 600 guests. The property is 3.79 square kilometers, which is approximately the size of 81 Tokyo Domes!

As New Greenpia is certified as Sakura Quality you can be assured of a high quality stay. They aim to be a sustainable hotel and grow much of their own produce, including Tsunan’s famous and delicious carrots known as “yukishita ninjin.” New Greenpia’s water all comes from wells and springs on the hotel grounds. This also means high quality onsen! It is the perfect gateway to the Naeba Sanroku Geopark, where you can experience breathtaking YUKIGUNI nature tours or have a relaxing forest therapy session.

A room with a view- and a dog!

Among the many rooms at New Greenpia are dog friendly rooms where you and your pet can stay together. These carpeted Japanese style rooms with futon are about 10 tatami mats in size, or 41 m2, and can comfortably fit groups of 4-5 people. Please note that there are a limited number of pet friendly rooms within New Greenpia, and guests should call ahead to inquire about availability. Guests are also asked to bring their own food, cages and a leash, while some supplies like dog bowls and towels are provided. Pets must be on a leash when not in your room, and are not allowed indoors aside from your room. Please note they are not allowed in certain recreational areas, such as the tennis courts.

Information for Travelers


Address: 795 Yubara, Minakami Town, Tone District, Gunma Prefecture 379-1617
Access: 10 minute walk from Minakami station
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Angel Grandia

Address: 4707-1 Tsuchidaru, Yuzawa Town, Minamiuonuma District, Niigata Prefecture 949-6103
Access: 10 minute walk from Echigo-Nakazato Station, hotel can also be reached via shuttle bus near Echigo-Yuzawa station

Hotel New Greenpia

Address: 12300 Akinari, Tsunan Town, Nakauonuma District, Niigata Prefecture 949-8313
Access: Shuttle bus from Echigo-Yuzawa station available