Best Ryokan for kaiseki between Tokyo and Kyoto?
We are going to be in Japan in April, and are planning to spend one night at a Ryokan. Our plan is to stop on our way between Tokyo and Kyoto (or the way back), so we were hoping to find somewhere that is somewhat on the way (or at least not out of the way) while traveling by train.
The food is one of the most important components for us (we want to stay somewhere nice, but the food comes first), so I thought this would be a good spot to look for advice. Any suggestions?
The trip from Kyoto to Tokyo is around two hours and fifteen minutes on a very comfortable train, so pretty much any stopovers in between would mean going out of your way, since it's not like there are lots of ryokan sitting next to shinkansen stations en route. I'd suggest staying in a ryokan in Kyoto.
I think if food is most important to you, stay in a ryokan that doesn't serve meals, and have your dinner at a highly regarded nearby counter-style restaurant.
I stayed one night each in hiiragiya, tawaraya, and kanamean ryokans in kyoto about a year ago, and generally felt that the food was not on par with what you pay. but if i had to choose one food-wise, i'd definitely pick tawaraya (which ironically was the one without any michelin stars), but still have some doubts about its value.
I suspect hiiragiya and kanamean in particular cater to international tourists, and their kaiseki was therefore pretty intro-level, and not much better than i've had in the bay area.
As you are on visit, and as it needs to be also a cultural experience, I recommend highly the Koya-san stay on bouddhist monastry. And believe me, even if it is shojinryori, I have had my best vegetable tempura so far : crispy, tasty and plentiful! I even bought a recipe book. Also it seems totally crazy to cook dishes based solely on vegetable, then assorted with grilled fish !! Some monks do speek English and it is 1h30 by train from Osaka.