After two weeks of running all over Japan, with more to follow, I chose to hang my yukata at an inn with private outdoor onsen, four of them, one in a cave, staying put to soak my feet but for hikes and walks through the countryside.
My room also had its own indoor onsen.
A wonderful part of the ryokan experience is the meal plan. Meals are kaiseki, meaning chefs choice. The ryokan ryori was spectacular and on par with Michelin starred dining in Europe and the USA.
Unlike in the west, regardless the cost, dietary restrictions and special requests are met with creativity and skill. On how many occasions, upon asking for vegetarian options, have I been handed a plate of carrots or given a bowl of groats. Travel has required greater flexibility, if I don’t want to crap groats for the next two weeks, so I generally will eat whatever is put in front of me.
My companion can not eat raw and is vegetarian, so declined the sashimi course. The chef created a platter of “sashimi” from konyakku, a kind of gelatinous yam cake, with the same unctuous slipperiness and tooth feel of hamachi.
The grounds surrounding the ryokan are beautiful, with 33 acres of bamboo groves and Hinoke forest, streams, and many contemplative spaces as well as a sake garden with a waterfall and koi pond.
Attention to the smallest of details makes all the difference in the world.