We arrived at Takayama’s old town on a cold, dark night but had the warmest of welcomes from our hosts at their traditional inn. The old couple that owned the place were adorable, the man who I’ll call Bob guided us through his spotless house showing us everything we needed to know and being totally oblivious that we still had our 18kg backpacks on our backs and had just walked a kilometre to get there.
Bob showed us to our second traditional Tatami style room for this trip. It was actually a 3rd of the size of the last one yet 3x the price. The shared bathroom (paying £68 for a futon and a shared bathroom, what the heck?) was however the nicest we’ve ever had. It was so swanky and the robot toilet provided me with a free wash and blow dry everyday. It was a really lovely place and much to my excitement we had Japanese robes which I got straight into. The Ryokan had two Onsen’s which were private and so relaxing. We really got our money’s worth lounging in the small but tranquil baths.
We had a fresh pot of green tea and biscuits in our room and then headed out for a bite to eat. This bite to eat at 7/11 proved to be more than we bargained for and gave Craig the shits for four days!!
The next morning we decided to have breakfast made by Bob’s smiley wife for £6 each. It was such a feast! We had a table full of bowls and unknown items of food. We had no idea where to start and kept staring at our neighbours trying to suss out how to go about it all.
We had a bowl of stewed and pickled vegetables including a bamboo shoot and a variety of mushrooms which I hate but they tasted really good, along with some tofu. A tiny bowl had sesame seed covered spinach. We had an ‘Onsen’ egg each, so I guess cooked in a thermal bath. I actually gagged watching Craig eat it or shall I say slurp up the runny egg. There was miso soup, a rice cooker full of fresh delicious rice and a main dish each. Craigs was a piece of art with a gold plate framing a small fish with seaweed and shrimp paste. My vegetarian option of salad and a huge omelette was perfect. We already had a feast in front of us but then they brought us more goodies! A square ceramic cube sat in the middle of the table and they lit a candle inside and rested a large leaf on top with slices of raw Hida Beef for Craig and bamboo and mushrooms for me, all sprinkled with spring onions and sat atop a very strong sauce which all melted around the ingredients as they cooked. We washed the tantalizing food down with green tea and coffee. It was a really tasty meal and very reasonable for the amount of work that went into it all. Then Craig nearly shat himself.
Every time we came and went from the house the hosts made sure they waved us off or welcomed us back. We had no idea what they were saying and it was always a funny experience with lots of ‘hi’s’ “ah hai hai hi hi hi haaai” we really need to find out what this means in Japanese. We’d always end up walking out the door in hysterics or running up to our room in fits of giggles.