Conveniently located within an easy three-minute walk to Hitoyoshi station, this ryokan is not only gorgeous on the outside with its main building (recently designated historic property), but on the inside with its beautiful rooms, fantastic meals, and incredible staff. I should have stayed even longer than I did.
With a river lulling me to sleep, I rested comfortably on the futons (but did cheat and piled a few extra on for my Western back). Everything is very traditional, but there's still a flat-screen for those who still need to find out what the weather is going to be like. Breakfast was a collection of small dishes and something that was cooking on the warmer (one day it was ham and an egg, another day it was something else). Dinner was a feast, and although I couldn't always identify what I was eating it all was wonderful and beautifully presented. Onsen tamago especially!
The onsen are very well-equipped and comfortable. I didn't use the private baths, but they looked nice as well. The three large baths are again quite traditional, and I could not get enough of the lovely water. I had never felt such smooth water, and as with my last trip to Japan I found that my hair loves it. The relaxation porch was another great touch, and gives another perspective on the garden and its shrine.
My room was huge, to the point that I asked if there was a mistake in my reservation. For 1/4 of what a hotel cost in Tokyo, I was staying in a 12-tatami main room, plus a sitting room, plus an entry way, my own bathroom, another bath (that I didn't use), and a huge window running the length of the room where I could watch the fisherman, the tour boats, and the moon. Breakfast and dinner too, along with great loose tea in the room.
I felt sorry for the staff. Here I am, dragging my luggage across the freshly-raked stones, with my sweaty beat-up tennis shoes, trying not to knock anything over. Some things I had no idea how to eat, and just asked. They were all very nice, and I pose a bit of a challenge with my rather limited Japanese. Most of the other guests simply assumed I was fluent and was surprised that a Western woman with next to no Japanese would travel by herself to this wonderful little town.
I am not sure how long it will be before I wake up to the sound of the river, the smell of tatami, and the incredible softness of those comforters that awaits me at Hitoyoshi Ryokan. I just hope it is soon! Of all of the places I have stayed in Japan, this is by far the first I would return to.
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