Japan Pt.7: Ryokan Experience in Kaga,加贺

Traditional B&Bs in Japan are called Ryokans. There you’ll get to really experience the traditional hospitality from Japan, most likely sleep on tatamis and futons, enjoy the in-house onsen and food… If it’s difficult to create a picture in your head, in my opinion it’s something close to a western spa resort, where guests generally stay within the hotel/ground to enjoy activity offered there, rather than going out all day and come back only for a place to sleep. Ryokans themselves are usually attractions equipped with a high quality kitchen(even michelin starred sometimes), a great onsen source(typically), and more.

Leaving Kanazawa, we headed to another famous onsen area called Kaga, just under an hour drive away from Kanazawa. And this time I’d booked for one evening stay in one of the most luxurious Ryokans around the area, Tachibana Shikitei. The price per night spoke for the experience itself, but with full Kaiseki dinner and the most sumptuous breakfast included, it couldn’t hurt trying it out for just one night.

On arrival, my name was written at the entrance of the Ryokan. All rooms were occupied too. You could see the names for all other guests staying that evening.

We arrived on a snowy day. Before the day got too dark, I decided to take a nearby walk in the mountain of Yamanaka Onsen. There are many interesting places to see. But being on a snowy late afternoon, we only took a short walk along the Kohrogi Bridge, and 20 minutes later, started craving for a steamy, hot onsen session back at the Ryokan.

 The water in the onsen there is all from the local natural source. We had a private stone bath within the room on the balcony. But you also can go down to the public bath area(it’s bigger with a few more pools, but it’s usually all naked, so completely depends on your preference).

20 minutes in the tub, watching the snow falling outside, followed by a 15-minute session on the massage chair(another popular item in the more prestigious ryokans) not only relaxes the body completely, but also sets the best appetite for the big dinner waiting for us ahead. 

 The kaiseki style dinner is served in the room too. You have the choice of eating at the western style dinner table, or on the tatami with the low table.  Considering how a regular kaiseki can last for at least 2.5 hours, we decided to take the “legs-friendly” option at the high dinner table. I didn’t get a picture of every dish, but you can see the length of our menu down in the collage of snaps from my phone. Being in the winter season, we had a lot of beautiful fatty fishes and a lot of crab dishes. By the end everyone was(pleasantly) stuffed.Our “obasan”(equivalent to the butler for the room) hushed us down to the lobby for a piano performance while she cleared the table and set out the futons for the night .

A good night note with little snacks and tea on a tray is left on the table for us. I won’t go on more about the breakfast here. But I’ll just say this, it was no less extravagant than the dinner. To anyone wondering and hesitating about staying in a Ryokan while in Japan, I’d say go for it. For locations equivalent to 4+ star hotel standard(like Tachibana Shikitei) , search on this website.