Ryokan with onsen and great food?
we're planning a trip to Japan and wondering whether a Ryokan exists with really great food AND a hot-springs onsen, too. If so, we'd like to hang out in one for a few days. We're flexible on price. Location ideally would be somewhere along this route: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kumamoto (we'd go elsewhere on Kyushu too.)
Yes they do. I am in Fukuoka, Kyushu right now and we were considering spending a day and a night at a ryokan with onsen and good food but we haven`t been able to find the time. We bought a magazine (in Japanese of course, you`ll need someone to translate) and looked through the options which are dotted all over Kyushu (including in and around Kumamoto), prices range from Y7,000 to Y30,000 per person, meals are generally included. Different places specialise in different types of food (eg local squid varieties, blowfish, crab) and meals are along kaiseki lines.
We are visiting Japan for 24 days in Apr/May and have reservations at four ryokans, all with onsen and the promise of great food. (At least all reviews are top notch) We reserved through Japanese Guest Houses. It is a great website. You can see where the hot springs are all over Japan and read description and reviews of the particular ryokan you are interested in. I took the names of the ryokan I was interested in and googled them for further reviews on other websites, like Fodors and Trip Advisor, just to get a sense of the validity of the review. I am feeling very good about my choices.
Our Ryokan choices are in Ise, Takayama, Gero, and Miyajima but I am sure you will find suitable choices in your areas.
I am most excited about the incrediblle meals I've heard so much about!!
I second Gora Kaden. They are part of Relais et Chateaux and worth every penny. The food was terrific, and you will soak to your heart's content. They will bring coffee and a western breakfast if you'd prefer that to a Japanese breakfast. Do not miss the Open Air Museum just a short walk away.
This is an unusual option, and perhaps not on your way----however, the absolute best experience I've had at a ryokan food and onsen wise was in Koyasan (Wakayama Prefecture, but you can get there from Kyoto/Osaka). This is actually a temple lodging (shukubo), and when I went there, I thought it would be more severe, since it's a temple after all----but it turned out to be the most relaxing, peaceful, and non-commercial place I've ever stayed. The food was insane, like 3 courses, everything is vegetarian, but you're tasting tastes you've never tasted before, and there's so much to taste. I could barely finish the first course, and when more came, I was amazed. There's a very nice bath there, and other baths around koyasan, so everyone walks around at night with their yukatas on outside.
Here's the website of where we stayed:
(ps the early morning participation is optional---and I must warn you, the futons are the most comfortable I've ever tried----I could not wake up.)
We stayed in Koyasan two years ago and it was a great experience. My only complaint would be that it seemed that every foreign tourist made a stop there- I don't think there were any Japanese Nationals in the place we stayed. Reading the booklet in our room which outlined what would happen if you should die while visiting Koyasan had us rolling on the floor with laughter. For example, you are entitled to compensation as long as you don't die of food poisoning, radiation or complications of pregnancy. This might be a "had to be there" moment - but if you find yourself in a Koyasan room for a night, read the guest info.
On another note, the ryokan we stayed in while in Yoshino was our favorite. The food was excellent and they are right across the street from a restaurant which specialized in pressed sushi with mackerel or salmon and then wrapped in persimmon leaves (I think they were persimmon). There was always a line to get into the restaurant but our hosts generously bought us a box of the sushi to go on our last day there. Yoshino is a little off the beaten path but if you're in Japan in April, it's THE place to go to see cherry blossoms. It's a great experience.