Day 6: Our First Ryokan Experience

Day 6: Our First Ryokan Experience

Hakone, Ryokan, yukata’s & omakase.

Adam

By Adam May 10, 2014

Ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, which originated on the foot highways that connected Kyoto and Tokyo. These paths have existed for hundreds of years, with ryokans dotting the road every few dozen miles (equal to a days travel). In more recent times the same concept has been adapted to more remote locations where people can get away from the city and be pampered.

How is a ryokan different from a hotel? For our case that starts when you pull up to the curb, where they checked our name against reservations and took our bags. After reaching the entrance we slipped off our shoes and changed in slippers, with them keeping our shoes safe during our stay.

Our room was similar to a western room with an additional extra room without any furniture. This room would serve as a dining room and optionally a sleeping area. One of the bathrooms also featured a hot mineral bath which we took advantage of multiple times. Rather than washing in this bath, however, you soap up and wash on the stool outside of it with a showerhead and bowl. After you are clean and have rinsed off all soap, you’re ready to jump in the mineral bath.

Our room was so unexpectedly awesome, we ended up taking a few extra photos of it. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Hakone, I’d recommend checking out the Mikawaya Ryokan.

Mikawaya Ryokan

The entrance to Mikawaya Ryokan.

Hotel Room Entrance

The main room, where we ate and slept one night.

The view

The view from our room.

Hakone ryokan screenshot

Hakone ryokan screenshot

Overlook

Two pairs of chairs, each with a view.

Beds

Traditional beds if you prefer them over the futons.

Bathroom

You're supposed to walk around your room in socks, but if you use the bathroom then use slippers.

Hakone beer

A local Hakone red ale we picked up.

Bath

Our mineral bath with its always flowing water.

Eating at a Ryokan

Many ryokan, including ours, offer breakfast and dinner served in your room. This is coordinated with an attendant who greets you and acts as a point of contact with the hotel. Ryokan meals are experiences of their own. It’s customary to take a bath before dinner and change into a yukata, provided by the ryokan.

We completely forgot about the bathing tradition for our first meal, which our attendant seemed to notice, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the amazing meal presented to us. The size and scope of the meal was more than we expected, but we ate every last bite.

Marilyn

Marilyn excited about dinner.

Sushi plate

Sushi plate.

Wrapped fish

Wrapped fish

Friday food

A sampler of a few small plates.

Tempura

Tempura with optional salt

Friday fish

Fish with pickled things.

Broth

This broth was absolutely amazing. It cooked at the table.

Setup

The setup with both broth stations.

Meat cooked table-side

This cooked under a candle at the table.

Fresh salad

A fresh salad.

Friday dessert

Fresh fruit for dessert.

Saturday Breakfast

At 7:45am on Saturday morning, our attendant arrived and started setting up breakfast. Even though it might look similar to dinner, it was much more sweet and tofu heavy. For this meal we had 4 different types of tofu. Although I’m generally a meat guy, the tofu dishes were memorable and delicious.

Tofu and shrimp

Tofu with small shrimp.

Breakfast fish

All that was left of this fish was bones.

Breakfast overview

All of the small plates.

Pickles

Collection of pickled items.

Beans and sauce

Soybeans in a sweet sauce.

Breakfast tofu soup

A light tofu, almost soup-like.

Tempura breakfast

Tempura side dish.

Tofu with small shrimp

Tofu with small shrimp.

Saturday Dinner

After a day of traveling around Hakone, we returned to our room with enough time to get in a relaxing mineral bath in our room before dinner. This meal included blowfish, something I wasn’t expecting to try, but was on my bucket list while in Japan. As exotic as it was, I wouldn’t order it again. It tasted like fish, but beyond that the intricacies were lost on me.

Succulent fish

Succulent fish.

Sushi plate

Sushi plate.

Sushi rolls

Sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves.

Seafood salad

Seafood salad.

Miso soup

Miso soup.

Tempura

Tempura

Crabs for dinner

Delicious crab with butter.

Freshly cooked meat

Freshly cooked meat.

Blowfish and tofu

Blowfish and tofu.

Fruit for dessert

A sakura jelly and fresh fruit.

Sunday Breakfast

Our last meal at the ryokan was breakfast on Sunday morning. It was raining out, so we took our time eating before checking out.

Adam eating breakfast

Adam eating breakfast.

Marilyn eating breakfast

Marilyn eating breakfast.

Morning salad

Morning salad.

Crab miso soup

Crab miso soup.

Foot-long omlet

This omlet was a foot long.

Crispy fish

Another delicious, crunchy, whole fish.

Sampler

A sampler of a few things.

This covers all the food we had during the 2 nights and 3 days we stayed at Mikawaya. Two nights means two travel days and one full day to explore the area. We set out on our next day and

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