Ao no Za

Hokkaido is Japan’s least-developed, northernmost island and the historic home to the indigenous people of the Jomon period, whose practices of living in harmony with the land defined their culture that prevailed in this region thousands of years ago. This spirited ethos, combined with inspiration drawn from the crystalline waters of the adjacent Lake Shikotsu, defines the simple elegance of Ao no Za, the Japanese-style Ryokan hotel that bears the full name of “Lake Shikotsu Tsuruga Bessou Ao no Za.” Ryokans have long been present in Japanese culture – generally with shared aspects like reed floor matting, sliding paper doors, and stately, hand-carved furniture and low wooden tables – and Ao no Za is a modern continuation of this tradition that still offers all the comforts and amenities of Japan’s best five-star hotels and resorts. The hotel’s name itself pays homage to the deep-blue waters of Lake Shikotsu, as “Ao” can mean blue or green in Japanese, while “Za” refers to a “gathering,” or a peaceful place for people to interact and enjoy life. Accommodations are furnished with natural wood-tone pieces styled with crisp, modern lines and accents of navy blue, cobalt grey, and other natural hues. What’s more, all rooms at Ao no Za come with a private indoor jet path and outdoor Onsen bath with enough space to accommodate up to three or four people at once. These baths are fed by natural hot spring water that promotes healing and a soothing sense of tranquility, and all onsens feature views looking out across the waters of Lake Shikotsu. Inspired by the cultural values and water-dependent lifestyle of Hokkaido’s ancient inhabitants, Ao no Za melds lakeside luxury with a focus on staying true to the rugged northern island and its rich heritage.

Why We Love This Hotel

Kaiseki Cuisine: Ao no Za’s tradition-forward style is perhaps most evident in its artful dining options. Hokkaido is renowned for its top-quality seafood and produce, and in-house dishes are presented in true kaiseki style wherein guests receive multiple courses complemented by local sake.

Unique Design: Put simply, Ao no Za boasts some of the most striking architectural features of any luxury resort or hotel in Japan. The lobby’s design incorporates an 8-meter-tall wall with layered rows of rock symbolizing “the interwoven layers of Jomon culture, Ainu culture, and the modern age with the flow of time.”

Lakefront Healing: The hotel’s spa awaits guests who need some extra pampering after a soak in their private Onsen bath. The hotel’s spa, Themae, offers oriental and Ayurveda massages, an array of body and facial treatments, and even a Moroccan oil scalp massage, to name a few options.

Lake Shikotsu, Japan
Hotel Type
Location Type
Urban Retreat


  • Bar/pub
  • Coffee Shop
  • Family Room
  • Fitness Center
  • Garden
  • Restaurant
  • Shuttle Service
  • Spa
  • Yoga Classes/instruction On Site
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