It’s ryokan day! We woke up slightly later today to ‘compensate’ for our long treks over the past few days. After packing up and checking the room to ensure that we did not leave anything behind, we headed to a nearby restaurant (Yayoi) for brunch.
It’s a self-service restaurant, and you have to order (and you pay for it upfront) at the self-service kiosks at the restaurant entrance. The concept is similar to a vending machine, so you will need to put in money before selecting your order. Once that is done, you collect the receipt and find an available seat. The waiter/waitress will then come to get the receipt from you.
The food comes very quickly, since the order is actually already sent to the kitchen when you select it at the self-service machine. The collection of the receipt just helps them to identify where the person who ordered the dish is seated.
I got the pork cutlet set for 760¥ (S$8.85).
C had the mixed toji set (omu with sliced pork with fried prawn & pork cutlet) for 780¥ (S$9.10). Both our dishes were yummy and the pork was pretty tender too.
From the restaurant, it was a short 2min walk to Shin-Osaka station, where we boarded the JR Kobe line train to Kyoto. The journey took us about 30min and 560¥ (S$6.50). Compare this to a 15min Shinkansen ride for 3,010¥ (S$35)! Of course, if you have the JR rail pass, by all means use it to take the Shinkansen Hikari. If you do not have the JR rail pass, it is not worth to pay such a high premium to save an extra 15min in my opinion.
At Kyoto station, we walked over to platform 3 and waited for the JR Kosei line train to Katata.
I found it pretty interesting to see a ramen shop on a train platform, hence this photo. It must be really convenient for working adults to grab a quick bite before or after work!
Upon arriving at Ogotoonsen station, we asked the station staff for help to call our ryokan to pick us up. While waiting for the shuttle bus, we saw this little hut beside the station, and checked it out. Turns out that it was actually a foot onsen! And its totally free! How cool is that! Imagine soaking your tired legs in it after a long day at work, just before catching a bus home. :p
It turned out that she called the wrong ryokan though, because we were picked up by another ryokan! The driver was very nice about it, and called our ryokan before letting us board his bus. He brought us to our ryokan and we thanked him for his help. I guess the ryokans in this area are friendly with each other and help each other out now and then. 🙂
We were too early to check-in, since it was not yet 3pm, so we hung around the lobby area. I went to explore the area around our ryokan, and it was really quiet and residential. A good breakaway from the hustle and bustle of the cities then!
The lobby is really spacious, and there was even a souvenir/snack shop, which sold some local snacks. Upon checking in, we selected our meal times (dinner & breakfast), as we had booked a half board package with the ryokan. Letting them know when we would be down for dinner also helps the staff in knowing when to enter our room to perform the turndown service (laying out the futons and blankets).
We were led to our room by the friendly associate, and given a tour of it.
She even reminded us of our meal timings, as well as told us to give the front desk a call if we needed to change our yukata sizes.
Without further ado, I now introduce our living room/bedroom (girlfriend not included)! She looks very serious here, but in reality, she was only looking at the room service menu! :p
There were two toilets in the room (yay! one for me and one for her!), with a common sink right outside the toilets. The toilets were next to the main entrance, and slippers were even prepared for us.
The dining area can be found after the living room, and boasts a good view of Lake Biwa and the surrounding village. There was even a pot of green tea and some Japanese snacks laid out for us on the dining table. 😀
After settling down in our huge room, we went to the onsen which was located in the annex building. The onsen is segregated by gender, so we said goodbye at the entrances and went in separately. I took a long bath before immersing myself in the hot onsen waters, and relaxed as my tiredness seeped away.
No pictures here because you can’t take pictures inside an area where other people’s privates are in full display right!
There is also an outdoor onsen section, which I particularly liked, since my head was above water (and enjoying the cool air), while the rest of my body was soaking in the hot onsen waters. 😀 It is not for everyone though, and C told me later on that she preferred the indoor onsen as it was hotter. The view from the outdoor onsen was definitely better than the view (what view?) indoors, and it was great just looking up at the sky and soaking in the hot onsen waters.
We met up after about 30-45min in the onsen. Thankfully there’s a clock inside so we could tell the time, since we were in different onsens, and could not communicate. Of course, we did not spend the full 30-45min soaking, which is also not recommended anyway. About half the time was spent washing up (it is common etiquette to wash thoroughly before entering the onsen), and drying off at the end. The onsen was well stocked with towels, hair dryers, hair conditioners, and even cold tea (which I drank a lot of)!
We each lost 300g from our soak hahaha! I find it pretty interesting how people would weigh themselves before and after, although its probably just losing water weight, rather than actual fats. :p Either way, it was good to lose some weight before our heavy kaiseki dinner that night!
We also stopped by the mini-arcade on the way to the restaurant, where C won for herself a mini-minion! She played 3 times, although in her defense she only got how to operate the machine after her 2nd try (instructions were all in Jap).
Private rooms were prepared for each guest, and it was a really cool experience to have.
The kaiseki dinner was really good, and the most unforgettable item was the snow crab (which was in season). Mmm yummy!!! Keep scrolling down for more tantalising pictures! 😉
Super fresh and yummy snow crab! The amount of meat was really a lot, and even I was surprised by how much meat this tiny crab contained.
Vegetable soup with boiled crab (before it was boiled).
Miso soup with sake. It had a rather unique flavour to it, and I cannot say that I liked it, but neither was it that bad that I disliked it. I guess it was ok in my opinion.
No clue what this is, but did not really like the taste of it.
Japanese sticky rice and some side dishes.
The beef was really tender and I was craving for more!
The meal ended off with some fruit and peanut mochi for dessert. The fruits were sweet and juicy, while the mochi was average (I’ve tasted better ones).
This is a picture of us with our huge bellies at the restaurant entrance! Our friendly waitress was more than willing to help us take a picture to commemorate our huge bellies (and yukatas) after all that feasting. 😉
Suffice to say that we were really stuffed after the 1.5h dinner, so we went to the lobby to use wifi (I know, so typical right?) and digest our food. After digesting our dinner for about 45min, we went to the onsen (yup again!) for a bath before bedtime. And yes, we lost some weight after the night onsen! :p
We arrived back in our room to find the futons and blankets all laid out! 🙂
The next morning, we woke very early (around 6.15am) so that we could go for another round of onsen before our breakfast (which we booked at 7.30am).
The sun was already up by then though, and here’s a really nice view from our dining room. How great it would be to wake up daily to this relaxing view of the lake and mountains.
After our morning onsen, we went back to the same restaurant for our breakfast, which was served in a traditional Japanese style. Compared to the heavy dinner the night before, breakfast was a light affair, and I noticed that the focus was very much on tofu-based dishes. It was a great way to start our day, and we had a good breakfast before heading back to Kyoto to do more sightseeing.
Summary of Day 1:
– Yuzansou Ryokan
– Lots and lots of onsen baths