Ryokan -4-

Posted October 9th, 2009 in Japan | No Comments »

We were awaked by delicious breakfast ♪

People may be surprised by the photo above – so many dishes in the morning!  But this is a typical Japanese breakfast.  Typical Japanese breakfast items include steamed rice, miso soup, tamago-yaki (square shaped seasoned omelet), grilled fish, pickles, etc.  The breakfast in this ryokan was gorgeous 🙂

On the second day we walked around famous Lake Kinrin-Ko area.  The name of the lake means “shining shinning scales of fish in the setting sun”.  … it was bit smaller than I thought, but I guess it’s because I’m from Shiga and I know how big the Lake Biwa (the biggest lake in Japan) is. :p

There are many souvenir shops around, as well as Hello Kitty shop…

We came back to ryokan around 3pm, then stayed in room.  Taking bath, relaxing … until dinner time!

This night we had …

grilled white fish with white miso sauce – assortment of eight dishes -cabbage roll – samma sashimi – local wagyu shabushabu – chargrilled crab legs and matsutake – okowa (sticky rice) with mountain vegetables – dessert.

We throughly enjoyed it!  So full…

Ryokan -3-

Posted October 7th, 2009 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

As well as Onsen, the food was also one of my interests on this ryokan.  My friend (who recommended me this place) told me that food here is very nice, and I know that she’s been to thousands of nice restaurants around the world so it must be good!

On the first day, after enjoying onsen we left our room and headed to the dining area in the different building.  Of course, wearing yukata. 🙂  There’re numbers of private dining rooms, and a kind staff led us to one of them.  The room got a wide window on the side and we could see forrest and river right in front of us.  Staff told me that they can see fireflies around June.  That means this area is still clean, because fireflies can’t live in dirty water area.

The dinner on first day:


clear soup – fugu sashimi – assortment of eight dishes – local wagyu on hot stone – seasoned matsutake rice with hot green tea – dessert

While enjoying dinner we had two surprise visitors.  Managing director of this ryokan, and the head chef came to our table to say hello to us.  They were very polite and told us that they are so happy to have us here.  We had nothing to say!  I mean, who would expect to see those people and listen to them thanking you.  We were overwhelmed… and I felt little embarrassed because they were wearing nice suits or itamae (Japanese chef) uniform, but I was wearing room yukata with dumped hair and non make-up face :p  Anyway, we sure felt great and again shocked by their king-and-queen treatment.  Do they do that to every customer, or is it just for us ??  I have no idea…

After dinner staff told us that there’re complementary cocktails and sweets for us at a bar in downstairs.  The view from the bar was also stunning…

Ryokan -2-

Posted October 2nd, 2009 in Japan | No Comments »

It was a drizzling day in Osaka. It sure wasn’t like summer anymore. We took a domestic flight from Osaka to Fukuoka, the biggest city in Kyushu island. The plane was kinda small, but packed with people. It took 1.5 hours to get to the destination. After we arrived in Fukuoka airport, we took a highway bus to Yufuin city – where the ryokan is -. It took around 2 hours.

I know, it was a long trip. We had to catch a plane and a bus to just get to this hotel, but this Yufuin city is very famous for its natural hot spring and I’ve been always wanted to go there. This long-distance-trip is not a thing we can do anytime, and I didn’t know whether I’ll ever have a chance going there if I miss this opportunity. That’s why I decided to use this “special occasion” to go to this Onsen city.

By the way, transport fee is very expensive in Japan. Before flying to Japan I searched on internet if there’re any good deals or sale fares in Japanese air companies (ANA or JAL), bus companies and shinkansen (bullet train). I compared prices and found a cheapest way to go to Yufuin from Osaka. On the way we took a plane and bus, and on the way back we took bus and shinkansen. Transport companies sometimes do limited-time-only campaigns and sale fares, so if you are thinking traveling around Japan I recommend you to browse their sites in advance. I booked our tickets and paid few months before this trip and I could save more than AUD$300.00.

Kyushu island consists of 7 prefectures, and Yufuin city is in Oita pref: top right on the map. Around this area there’re lots of sources of hot springs, therefore there’re many ryokans featuring natural hot springs. Unfortunately we could only stay in Yufuin for 2 nights because of our schedule.

As soon as we arrived the ryokan, we were SPEECHLESS. This ryokan is located in the middle of mountains.. lots of trees, rivers and very quiet as if it was an another world. SO BEAUTIFUL. And, we’re very surprised by staffs – super polite yet kind and friendly. They bowed every time they saw us and treat us like a king and a queen! :p This is Japan.

It took about 5 mins from lobby to our room. We crossed a bridge, passed many stirs… and here it was. At a glance, our room looked like a traditional Japanese house. We opened the sliding door with a key, then took off our shoes and went inside. There are 2 rooms- living room and sleeping room- and the floor was of course tataki-matted. There is a beautiful garden and one private open air onsen. (roten-buro) Yet the toilet was modern. :p

Staff brought us freshly made maccha green tea and Japanese tea snack. It was already 5pm so we could listen to Autumn insects singing… As our dinner booking time was 6:30pm, we took bath in roten-buro in the garden. The air was cool and it was so relaxing. After that we changed to yukata and lay down on wooden floor on engawa until dinner time…

Ryokan -1-

Posted October 1st, 2009 in Japan | No Comments »

While staying in Japan my husband and I went on a little trip to Kyushu island, southernmost of the 4 main islands of Japan. It was actually my first time going to this island. The purpose of going to Kyushu was, the famous Onsen. I was dying to go to Onsen because I’m Japanese, but hadn’t taken proper bath for long long time… (Japanese people take bath everyday) And, I had been to Onsen just few times in my life, so I wanted to go on Onsen trip with my husband together.

I asked one of my friend -an Onsen Somurie (expert)- which Onsen we should go to. It was kind a special occasion for us (just married) and there are thousands of good Onsen around Japan. She recommended me an Onsen ryokan in Yufuin, in Ooita prefecture in Kyushu island. Ryokan is a term for a Japanese style hotel, and usually features tatami-matted rooms, sleep on futon on the tatami floor, and has everything you can imagine of “Japan”. Guests wear yukata (Japanese casual summer wear /after-bath wear) and walk around public area. Usually staying in a ryokan is more expensive than staying in a normal hotel.

Yufuin is one of famous Onsen area in Japan, and I had seen many tv programs featuring this area on tv before (like “Postcard WA” type of tv show). A ryokan my friend recommended me is called “Gettouan”, and I decided to stay there as our petit honeymoon. Because it was a special occasion, I booked a room in their annex with Honeymoon Plan. The annex is separated from its main building and we had to walk through a bridge – the view and atmosphere was magnificent!!! Sooo beautiful.

Our room – like a house – had a beautiful garden with natural mountains and river in background (of course the garden was surrounded with wooden wall for privacy), with private bathroom where we can enjoy Onsen (natural hot spa) by ourselves. Everything around this building is made un-artificial (eg: no concrete walls, no electric wires ) and I felt like I was back in samurai era!

I will write about the room, staff and food in another post. Staying in this ryokan was like a “dream” and took all my stress away!