From a Wall Street Journal online review:
FINICKY WESTERN EATERS would still be relieved to find filet mignon on the French menu of the hotel, now known as the Nikko Kanaya, a 90-minute drive from Tokyo. The dining room itself looks much as it did when it first opened, in 1893 and eagle-eyed diners might notice that the wooden pillars are decorated with flower carvings that echo those of the nearby Toshogu shrine. The views from the guest rooms are likewise unchanged—forest-covered mountains in the background, the same fastidiously manicured gardens in the foreground that the Einsteins strolled in 1922. Other parts of the hotel feel mildly haunted, like a Japanese version of “The Shining.” The wood-paneled lobby is well worn, stairwells creak noticeably and a shadowy cocktail bar features fading black-and-white photos of forgotten ’20s parties, with men in tuxedos and women in frocks smiling at the camera.
THE 19TH-CENTURY FOREIGNERS who first ventured to the Japanese mountain town of Nikko came away enchanted by the scenery: ornate Shinto shrines set among rivers, forests and waterfalls. But those same visitors were less impressed with the lodging options. Many griped about the local inns, furnished with futon-beds set on the floor and paper walls that offered no privacy. And the food? Overly exotic at best. British traveler Isabella Bird offered a typical review: “The fishy and vegetable abominations known as ‘Japanese food’ can only be swallowed and digested by a few, and that after long practice.” In 1873, in an attempt to cater to Western sensibilities, Zenichiro Kanaya, a 21-year-old temple musician, opened rooms in his family house, serving guests simply-prepared poultry, rainbow trout and eggs.