I found this through www.jalan.net. On this website, it was highly rated, particularly for the food (which was rated >4/5). From using google translation, the owner is a pretty decent cook and left Kyoto to start this ryokan in Takayama.
We can speak very little Japanese, so please do not be deterred from this place if you don't speak. It wasn't the easiest place to find. We got lost trying to find our way here, but with some help from a local (who took us to the street where it was located), we managed to find it. The owners are very welcoming. We weren't sure of the "protocol" when we arrived, but we had to take off our shoes and we were provided the geta (Japanese thongs) to walk around (outside). Then we had to "sign" ourselves in and we were shown around the ryokan and we discussed with the owner where we had been. I won't spoil the rest of the welcome, as there were a few things that he did that surprised us.
Because there weren't many other guests staying here (there was only one other group of guests other than us), we could have a "private" bath. The only place where there is a shower is in the room where the bath is. When you want to use the bath, you had to stick a sign on a stand outside the door to the bath, saying it was occupied. When the ryokan is more busy, there are sessions for males and females to have baths (I saw the signs there for these as well). But we did not have to worry about it.
After that, we were shown our room. We were in room 203 (upstairs). When you first walk in, there is a small vestibule. There is a cupboard there, which contains your yukata and towels etc. Then you walk into the main room. The room was a huge 12 tatami mat room. In the distance, we could see the mountains forming parts of the Japan Alps (it was partially snow covered, so quite nice). You also overlook a temple from this room, so if you are superstitious, then you might need to ask for another room.
There was hot water (Japanese flask with water) and tea leaves etc. for tea. They also gave us a cake each. I do not know what it was, but it was bought and it was made of red bean paste on the inside with a gooey green covering on the outside. It was nice.
We unpacked and then watched a bit of TV before dinner. Dinner is served in your room on the tatami mat. We ordered the most expensive dinner in the ryokan (which includes a 120 gram hida beef steak).
I do have pictures of most courses, but let me say this about the dinner:
1. The food was excellent. It was very fresh (we had probably the top 3 most freshest sashimi here out of our stay in Japan). The only disappointment was that there was too much salt on the steak and that is the ONLY complaint I had about the food. I had the best pumpkin here ever in my life and tried things that I had never tried before (eg: sweet plum, when you were used to having sour plum in Japan). I was very very full. There is plenty of food, although small servings. I loved the Japanese fried rice here too. I would echo the ratings that I saw on jalan.net for the food in this place. It is really very good - I can't think of any of the dishes that was overcooked at all (other than the ones that you cooked yourself). I would have said that this was one of the 5 most memorable meals that I had in the entire trip.
2. Don't expect dessert to be much - we were served home-made yoghurt with an orange sauce.
3. Breakfast was very nice as well. Ours was served downstairs in a small room overlooking the garden. I overcooked the hoba miso here, but other than that, it was nice. The floor was heated - a very nice touch.
The only thing that might also deter you about this place is that the bathroom is shared. There is a separate room for the toilet on the second floor (they have both western and Japanese toilets) and male and female. There is also another room which has 3 basins. We did not find this to be a problem, however, because it was so very very scrupulously clean and didn't have to "share" as there weren't many guests at the ryokan (we pretty much had the basins to ourselves).
As I mentioned before, there are showers, but it is in the room where the bath is. We did not find it that convenient to go down there in the morning to have a shower (although we could have done so, no problems). I think that it would be more of an issue if there were a lot of people staying here (ie: if the ryokan was full). That's why it was important to take a bath before you go to bed.
The futons and doonas were very comfortable and warm. My Japanese is absolutely hopeless, but there was air-conditioning in the room that we had. I think that there was an additional 500 yen charge per night if you were going to use it. When we got here, the remote control was missing and the unit was unplugged from the wall.
I would rate this place very good to excellent (4.5 out of 5). If I come back to Takayama, I would definitely come back and stay here again. This place would be best appreciated by someone who can speak a bit of Japanese (enough to converse). I only wish that I knew more Japanese to converse with the owners here. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome and took us back to the station the next day when we left the ryokan.
For your information, the tariff (including breakfast and dinner) is 33,600 yen. It is not very close to town, so this is also a drawback as well and you would need to walk for at least 10 minutes to get close to the sights of Takayama. I would say it is a good 20 minute walk from the station here and you would be better of getting a taxi.
I will try to add pictures to this if I can later on (I have pictures, so if I am unsuccessful and you want to see pictures, please contact me and I will send them to you)
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