“Kansuiro Ryokan was formerly called ‘Motoyu Suzuki’. There was a man, named Hirobumi Ito, who visited Motoyu Suzuki frequently. He was one of the leaders of the shogunate at the end of the Edo era and later became the first prime minister of Japan. Mr. Ito visited and held parties here many times.
“One day he made a Chinese poem to be given to the owner, Zenzaemon Suzuki, as a largess. Mr. Ito picked out 3 characters from this poetry – 環 (kan, ring; rim), 翠 (sui, emerald; jade) and 楼 (ro, watchtower; lookout) – then, Japan’s first prime minister re-named the hotel as ‘Kansuiro’.”
Tonosawa hot spring was opened some 300 years ago, one of the seven great natural hot springs of Hakone. In the postcard image above, the hot spring inns are seen in the vicinity of the Chitose bridge, along the old imperial highway, the Tokaido, which separates two onsen ryokan – Ichinoyu Honkan (foreground), opened in 1630, and Kansuiro Ryokan, opened in 1614. (Nearby Hakone was the 10th post-station along the Tokaido Highway.) Hot springs in the area are mentioned in a thirteenth-century travelogue, Izayoi Nikki (‘Dairy of the Waning Moon’).