Japan’s first genuine resort hotel

1878—the dawn of Japan’s resort history.
Fujiya Hotel came into being in the Miyanoshita district of Hakone.
For more than 140 years it has survived tumultuous times and periods of high economic growth,
but has continued to grow one step at a time thanks to the patronage of its customers.
Read on to learn more about Fujiya Hotel’s historical development since the Meiji period.


Recent Japan officially uses two calendar systems,
one is the Gregorian calendar and the other is a unique period expression,
Meiji as 1868-1912, Taisho 1912-1926, Showa 1926-1989, Heisei 1989-2019, and Reiwa as 2019 and after,
named by Emperor 's generation.



July 15, 1878


Three-storied hotel with balconies

It was in 1877 when Sennosuke Yamaguchi decided to establish an inn catering only to international visitors in Miyanoshita. He bought Fujiya Inn, a Japanese-style inn, that name meant Wisteria Inn, not Mt.Fuji. He re-opened it in 1878 under the name Hakone Miyanoshita Fugakukan Fujiya Hotel as a branch of Yokohama Jinpuro Inn where his adoptive father Kumezo Yamaguchi worked as a manager. There had already been Naraya Inn where foreigners could stay, but the buildings and management styles of both Naraya Inn and Fujiya Inn were totally traditional, then Sennosuke remodeled Fujiya Hotel by constructing a Western-style building and started offering Western services; for example, he had fresh bread and meat delivered from Odawara every morning.


The founder of Fujiya Hotel

Sennosuke Yamaguchi 1851-1915

His experience of contacts with foreigners at the Jinpuro Inn in Yokohama, quickly brought his attention to international tourism and ultimately led to the establishment of Fujiya Hotel. His contributions to Hakone were tremendous, including the expansion of roads in the area.

Founder Sennosuke Yamaguchi created a hotel with the name “Fuji”—a symbol of Japan’s beauty—and at the same time spawned a new hotel business exclusively for foreign guests in order to acquire foreign currency, a completely new, accommodation business concept. Back to 1871 when he left Japan at the age of 20, he experienced some tough times—he worked as a dishwasher in San Francisco amid the frenzy of the gold rush, for example. His many and various experiences abroad were likely the origin of his concept of Fujiya Hotel.



December 12, 1883 — the Great Miyanoshita Fire

December 12, 1883 — the Great Miyanoshita Fire

In 1883 a fire broke out in a house and spread rapidly to consume much of the Miyanoshita area.
Not only Fujiya Hotel building, but records spanning the first six years of the hotel were lost in the fire. Yamaguchi sought assistance from his adoptive father and in July of the following year he completed the construction of a 12-bedroom one-storied Western-style building that would later be named EYRIE, where the wooden beds were delivered into from Yokohama. This marked the true beginning of the Fujiya as a Western-style hotel.





The up-and-coming hotel man

Shozo Yamaguchi 1882-1944

Shozo Yamaguchi was the second son of Kanaya Hotel founder Zenichiro Kanaya. At the age of 18 he went to the United States and then spent seven years in England working as a hotel bellboy. After returning to Japan he was adopted by Sennosuke and took on the role of managing Fujiya Hotel. He actively incorporated English and American styles of service into Fujiya Hotel and also endeavored to establish Sengoku Golf Course.

The third president, Shozo Yamaguchi, is remembered for many unconventional and brilliant achievements as hotel manager—namely, the establishment of Fujiya Motorcar Company, the opening of the Hakone Hotel, and the construction of the dining wing and Flower Palace at Fujiya Hotel. He was admired and assigned as the manager of the new Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was famous. At the same time, his tenure was besieged by many crises, including the sudden Great Kanto Earthquake and the insidious approach of the Second World War. Despite these adversities, his never-say-die attitude remained constant and he laid the foundation of today’s hotel services by seizing business opportunities to realize a new style of Japanese hotel management inherited from both his biological and adoptive fathers.

Shozo Yamaguchi 1882-1944

Shozo Yamaguchi was the second son of Kanaya Hotel founder Zenichiro Kanaya. At the age of 18 he went to the United States and then spent seven years in England working as a hotel bellboy. After returning to Japan he was adopted by Sennosuke and took on the role of managing Fujiya Hotel. He actively incorporated English and American styles of service into Fujiya Hotel and also endeavored to establish Sengoku Golf Course.




Hakone in the Great Kanto Earthquake

At 11:58 a.m. on September 1, 1923, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 (or 6.0 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale) struck the south Kanto region (Greater Tokyo Area). Hakone did not escape the damage—the chimneys and roofing tiles on COMFY LODGE & RESTFUL COTTAGE and THE MAIN of Fujiya Hotel were seriously damaged. Structures in the hotel gardens completely collapsed and Japanese-style buildings and the hotel’s KITCHEN were also heavily damaged. Meanwhile, the impact of the road damage between Ohiradai and Miyanoshita was far greater than the damage to buildings, which prompted Fujiya Hotel to form a garrison to maintain public peace in the area and work towards reconstruction.



The man called
Kenkichi Yamaguchi

Kenkichi Yamaguchi 1903-1968

Kenkichi Masui, the fourth son of a chandler from Kuwana, Mie Prefecture. Upon graduating from Waseda University, he joined Nippon Yusen, a shipping company, and worked as a passenger ship’s purser on foreign routes. He later married Sadako, the second daughter of Fujiya Hotel founder Sennosuke, and took on the Yamaguchi name, and assumed management of the hotel.

Following the death of Shozo Yamaguchi, Kenkichi Yamaguchi took the helm as Fujiya Hotel’s fourth president during a period of significant change marked mainly by the end of World War II, the requisition of the hotel by the occupation forces, and the transfer of hotel management. With a mild and down-to-earth disposition, his policy was to maintain the style of management Shozo had already established. Following in the footsteps of Sennosuke and Shozo, overseeing the construction of THE MAIN and FLOWER PALACE, respectively, Kenkichi made every effort to meet the needs of the times by building FOREST LODGE (now called FOREST WING).


Fujiya Hotel during World War II

At the close of World War II in 1945, around 50 major hotels in Japan were immediately requisitioned by occupation forces and then operated as recreational facilities for the US military. In the absence of any policy developed by the Japanese government, Fujiya Hotel was commandeered on October 20, 1945 and normal operations were suspended. This situation continued until July 6, 1954 when the hotel was released from army control and normal operations were resumed.




Start of Big Renovation Work

Following amendments to the Act on Promotion of Seismic Retrofitting of Buildings in 2013 and in light of seismic diagnosis results, a decision was made to undertake earthquake-resistant work on the hotel in order to prioritize the safety and security of guests and employees. To still communicate the enduring value of Fujiya Hotel together with the many generations of past, current and the future. The renovation work undertaken combined the hotel’s legacy with new technology and left the intrinsic value of the buildings. A design strategy emphasizing moderate restoration, the creation of spaces only possible in a wooden building, and the melding of new technology with tradition was the scheduled blueprint brought forth by the perpetual trust of Fujiya Hotel’s guests and employees through successive generations.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Proud to be a classic hotel pioneer

Fujiya Hotel celebrated 140 years on July 15, 2018. We are truly grateful for the long-standing patronage of our guests. We will continue to treasure the history of Hakone nurturing the hotel’s development, the characteristic architecture as a reflection of the times, and the hotel service transcending time. We aim to etch a new history into people’s memories as a proud classic hotel pioneer.



July 15, 2020

Classic hotel for a new generation

After two years of major renovations and the ups and downs of the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, and Heisei periods now in the past, all newly renovated buildings of Fujiya Hotel are ready for a grand opening in July 2020 in Reiwa. The buildings that survived numerous natural disasters and the ravages of war will be reborn as a hotel for a new generation where the old meets the new, equipped with a level of safety and comfort in step with the times.