My stay at the Takahan Ryokan was wonderful thanks to the welcoming staff, classic room layout and view, and history of the property.
I arrived at Gala Yuzawa Station a little before the official check-in time (3:00 pm) but was still picked up within five minutes after calling. The staff member on the phone spoke good English, as did the two staff members - both non-Japanese - who welcomed me at the hotel. Everyone was patient and went out of their way to help me and answer questions.
One staff member led me up to my room on the fifth floor of the hotel, showing me the entrance to the baths from the hot spring presumably under the property and the room Kawabata Yasunari wrote "Snow Country" in, both on the first floor, along the way. I was really happy with the room, which was quite large by Japanese standards and had a great view. As another reviewer noted, the amenities in the room are dated, but I thought that just added to the charm.
As a fan of Kawabata Yasunari, I really enjoyed the history of the place and the chance to look out on the town from the same vantage point he described in his novel. The comfortable seating - with tea set - on the room's balcony/veranda made this especially enjoyable to do.
Overall, my stay at the Takahan was one of the most memorable and enjoyable I've had. Highly recommended.