In November 2018, a Gifu-based real estate company has purchased a historic Japanese inn at a public foreclosure auction. The winning bid was 42,790,000 Yen.
The Rinsenro Kashiwaya Bessou ryokan is located in the Bessho-Onsen hot-spring district in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture. It had an illustrious past, having hosted famous novelists and other celebrated and well-known guests over the years. The former operator of the ryokan was founded in 1910. They borrowed heavily in advance of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics to upgrade the ryokan’s facilities, filing for bankruptcy in 2017 with debts of 995 million Yen. Annual revenues peaked at 365 million Yen in 2014.
Another ryokan in the Bessho district, Ryokan Nakamatsuya, was sold by receivers for 110 million Yen in 2017. The buyer had intended to re-open it by April 2018 but cancelled their plans due to the serious state of the building and the immense repairs required. The estimated repair cost made the venture unprofitable, with it later being put up for foreclosure auction.
The Bessho-Onsen district is the oldest hot spring region in Nagano. Ueda City flourished in the Meiji era with silk-worm farming. At that time, Bessho-Onsen had as many as 30 inns operating. By 2018, the number of hot-spring hotels had dropped to 15. Some of those hotels date from the Edo period, having originally been used for silk-worm farming. Many hotel operators invested considerable amounts into improving their hotels in anticipation of a tourism boom following the opening of the Nagano Shinkansen in 1997 and the 1998 Winter Olympics. However, sluggish economic conditions in the following years have caused these inns to fall into dire financial situations.
The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, November 15, 2018.
Travel Voice, May 12, 2017.