Never having stayed at a ryokan before, the experience was a little daunting at first, but soon we relaxed into Sakaya's beautiful surroundings and friendly hospitality. We were in Nozawaonsen for five nights in late December, and the ryokan was fully booked, with a mix of Japanese and non-Japanese guests.
The English language skills of the staff ranged from completely fluent to rudimentary, but an iPad with Google Translate was adequate for most purposes! At the time of booking, we were offered a choice of Western or Japanese rooms. We chose a Japanese room for the more authentic ryokan experience. The main part of our room had tatami flooring, and there was also a carpeted area with two western armchairs and wardrobe. The staff prepared our futons during dinner, and put them away at breakfast time. We never used the ensuite shower because, like most other guests, we used the beautiful onsen baths on the second floor of the hotel every day (often more than once a day!).
The highlight of our ryokan stay was the dining experience. Meals were served in the 'restaurant' on the second floor, which consisted of private tatami rooms, private dining rooms with tables/chairs, and a larger dining room with several tables. Breakfast was included in the room rate. We chose the Japanese breakfast each day, although a Western-style breakfast was also available as an alternative. Every morning we were greeted with a sumptious feast of 'onsen' egg, fresh tofu, fish freshly grilled on the table, salad, fruit, Japanese pickles, rice, miso soup and other local delicacies. Served kaiseki-style, dinners were even more elaborate and spectacular. We initially booked dinner only for the first two nights, but after eating at other restaurants in the village for the next two nights, we decided to return to the ryokan for our final dinner becaue it was so good. There was a different menu each evening, and each course was explained to us in English by the friendly waitress. They even provided a printed English menu on one of the three occasions.
The ryokan was very well located - an easy five-minute walk to the 'Yu Road' (a long moving walkway transporting skiers and boarders up to Hikage ski slope). Shops, restaurants, bars, gift stores and several public baths were all very close, and buses for Togari Nozawaonsen train station and Nagano were only several minutes away on foot. The ryokan provided complimentary gumboots for walking around the village, and there was a large secure drying room for skis, boards and other gear.
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- Also Known As:
- Ryokan Sakaya Hotel Nozawaonsen-Mura
- Ryokan Sakaya Japan/Nagano Prefecture