Staying at Senjuan, one of the finest ryokan in mountainous Gunma Prefecture, is a journey of discovery. The ryokan abounds in elegant touches that surprise and delight, making the guest realize that this is special place, with a unique approach to luxury.

A relatively new establishment at 13 years old, Senjuan offers a rich mix of old and new, in a tasteful and elegant package. Local touches give a strong sense of place, and the history and culture of the area. The walls are finished with tsuchikabe mud-and-straw stucco, and kumiko traditional joinery fashioned from sugi (cryptomeria) and kyoku (zelkova) wood can be seen throughout the ryokan, as can beautiful washi paper and mica prints, used for soft interior lighting, and sumi charcoal, a local industry since time immemorial.

Rooms are finished in tsuchikabe, a traditional technique raised to the level of art at Senjuan, with leaves, pieces of charcoal, seashells, and even machine nuts and washers (which over the years have oxidized, leaving lovely red images in the stucco). This 斗ive wall? is the traditional way to naturally control humidity, odors and temperature.

The surrounding forested mountains abound with wildlife, and all rooms are equipped with binoculars for spotting the numerous local birds, as well as squirrels, rabbits and, if you're lucky, a glimpse of a kamoshika, a local species of deer.

And then, after eating your fill of the outstanding kaiseki ryori in the Hibiki restaurant, you can soak in your rotemburo and contemplate the moon, the stars and the play of the seasons on the mountain crags, with the music of the river a constant companion.