Oyado Koto No Yume

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February, 2016

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After our first “ryokan”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/restaurant/163239-review-gora-kadan experience we weren’t looking forward to our two-night stay at “Oyado Koto no Yume”:https://www.kotoyume.com/ in Takayama, Japan.

On arrival, we took off our shoes and put on comfortable mule slippers. In the welcoming lounge we received a friendly welcome over green tea, from a traditionally dressed girl with excellent English. The paperwork was done, meal times agreed, and style of breakfast chosen (western or Japanese). Whilst a traditional Japanese dinner was included on both nights, we wanted to cancel one to allow us to eat out. A refund wasn’t available but we were offered a complimentary drink with dinner and use of the private onsen (normally ¥1100 per person) which we thought fair.

Yukatas (cotton kimonos) are the order of the day in ryokans and this time we were able to choose the pattern of the material. I also selected a matching large silk bow to be clipped on the back which I knew would emphasize the size of my derrière! Girls were given pink socks (with the big toe being uncomfortably separated) and the boys, blue.

Our room on the 4th floor was spacious with lacquered low table and chairs on the tatami-matted floor. Each room was individual – our theme was ‘Hinamatsuri’ or Girl’s Day which appears to be like Mother’s Day for daughters. The room was beautifully decorated with wall hangings and traditional ornaments. There was also a carpeted alcove with red leather sofa and we had TV and DVDs, tea and coffee making facilities, an empty fridge and safe (the latter two and telephone were all discretely covered).

The bathroom was off the small hall (where slippers were taken off). It had a separate loo on one side and a small, deep bath and shower opposite with open plan sink.

Sliding doors were everywhere: hall to lounge, lounge to bathroom, bathroom to loo etc which wouldn’t be a problem except that they were lower than Roy at 6’ 2”. After bashing his bonce a couple of times, he developed a two-day stoop.

Dinner was served in the 2nd floor restaurant (there was a lift). Individual menus showed we were in for a feast with twelve dishes listed: aperitif, assorted appetisers, fresh vegetable salad, soup, sashimi, grilled fish, steamed dish, Hida beef, miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables and dessert buffet. There were a number of memorable items: what looked like a brown slug in a light broth served in a lidded egg cup (I didn’t even dare ask what it was); long, slender vegetable sticks stood to attention in a bowl of crushed ice; two large, glazed succulent salmon pieces arrived on fern leaves and we cooked thin slices of marbled Hida beef (named from the region it comes from) at our table on individual grills. We declined the miso soup and rice as we were full. The dessert buffet (and coffee were in a side room.

Our 40 minute session in the private onsen (5th floor) was at 10pm. The ante room, where we undressed, was well equipped with toiletries, hairdryer, CDs and rubber ducks. The onsen area was spacious with three showers for washing before getting into the huge, square, tiled bath with constantly running hot spring water. We tried to forget that other people had been in probably much of the same water within the previous 20 minutes! It was just the thing to make us sleep on the futons which had been set up whilst we were at dinner.

Breakfast was a spectacular affair with the highlight being individual black cast iron pots over a burner where we cooked our own bacon, eggs and frankfurter- style chipolatas. There was also a mango and berry compote with yoghurt, rolls and croissant accompanied by a selection of jams, and a salad with softly poached egg. Juice, coffee, oranges, strawberries and cereals were available on a buffet table.

This was a great ryokan experience with extremely friendly staff and in contrast to Hakone, it had a much more informal style and atmosphere.

Helen Jackson

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