Guest reviews
A review of our stay October, 2012 "Wow!" was our first comment as soon as we arrived. Just a fifteen-minute drive from Okayama station through rice fields and residential areas, and here we were. The inn was standing like a Japanese castle on the side of a mountain. This was the beginning of our trip (reviewers: Maki and Rina).
In Okayama there are three famous hot springs in the north called the Mimasaka Three Hot Springs, but we never knew there was a great one so close to Okayama station. What kind of experience is waiting for us at this inn? Our vacation starts now!
[ 4:00 PM ] An invitation to a whole new world of decadent flamboyance
We went past the inn, parked the car, and found a temple waiting for us. We didn't miss this chance. The temple was rebuilt by Chogen, who was also responsible for rebuilding the famous temple Todaiji. This temple is categorized as "Jodoji", meaning it was the hub for his missions.
A wooden tablet hanging from the eaves of the temple, with the Japanese character "me" on it, caught our attention.
"Let us have a wonderful trip," we prayed and headed back to our inn.
"Welcome!" called the beautiful lady in the lobby. We were enchanted and led to a different world from where we had been.
The spacious entrance hall has a wooden display that almost reaches the ceiling, The escalator was moving gracefully. We got excited right away. Each guest room had beautifully carved beams across the ceiling, which showed the owner's passion, and it added a relaxing taste to the traditional Japanese architecture. Once we were in our room, we had a complementary Japanese sweet named Yuba no Sato. The inside was moist and yet the outside was crispy. No wonder it is the most popular sweet at this inn.
[ 4:00 PM ]
Strolling through the tastefully decorated Tokaido style interior of the inn
Shinagawa-juku, Hamamatsu-juku, Yokkaichi-juku. Each room is named after the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (a famous series of woodblock prints by Hiroshige), so we felt like we were traveling along the Tokaido road even though we hadn't left Okayama. Each guest room has its own eaves and roof, so we felt as if we were walking through a town, not inside of a building.
There are places to sit down to take a break and places to shop on the various floors. Even the party hall and the big bathroom follow the town motif. It all gives us the feeling of walking through a town.
It's like an elegant theme park. Just walking through is fun enough. The whole place is like that.
Don't think of it as just a place to stay for a night. You'll enjoy "touring the town" during your stay.
[ 5:00 PM ]
An elegant hot spring with a long history connected to the high priest Chogen
We did a hot spring tour after the town tour.
The baths available for male and female customers are switched daily. There are multiple baths on both sides, so you can surely find the ones you will like. One of them is a huge Taiwanese stone bath, which is rare because that kind of Taiwanese marble is no longer exported.
You can enjoy the neighboring bath at Yuba Kenko Village.
The cold bath runs down like a waterfall as if you were in a natural spring outdoors.
The types of bath include the open-air bath using Bizen ceramic tiles in the tub, a jacuzzi, a bubble jet tub and a sauna.
What we liked the most among them was the Goemon (wooden barrel) bath. The deep, round tub kept us warm.
No wonder this inn has been shown on TV as a great place to go more than a few times.
[ 6:30 PM ] Seasonal cuisine made with Japanese care and elegance
Many good dishes were served and I just couldn't help smiling. Starting from kobachi (a small bowl), then slices of raw fish, grilled fish, oshinogi (served in the middle of the meal), fried food, steamed food and marinated food. The course included Okayama pork called Peach Pork, mamakari (a famous fish from Okayama) and yellow chives, which Okayama is well-known for. People visiting from outside of Okayama will surely be satisfied.
After finishing our muscat grape warabi-rice cake dessert, our hearts and stomachs were totally full.
Then we even had a chance to enjoy karaoke, to burn the extra calories we had just consumed (lol). If you come in a group and eat in the big dining hall, you might be able to use this karaoke machine.
Why don't you come with your family or friends to have your hearts and bodies satisfied?
[ 9:00 PM ] Feeling fulfilled after the stage performance
After singing our hearts out at karaoke, we went to see a stage performance.
There is a building next to the inn called Kenko Mura (Health Village), which is connected via an indoor bridge. The second floor has a theater and there is a line of portraits of the former chairmen of the performance groups on the wall. There are two performances a day, afternoon and evening. The show changes every month. A spacious waiting area is available next to the theater and people were resting in reclining chairs watching TV until the performance began.
Everything is just so quiet and relaxing that you could easily fall asleep. But the stage entertainment performance was simply amazing and blew off our sleepiness. The performance was deeply moving and we were totally overwhelmed with the performers.
Once we got back to our room and relaxed, we talked about this and that. (We never imagined we'd have a deep talk like that at an inn) I guess the stage performance we just saw had affected us. (The whole trip ended up being very meaningful.)
[ 7:00 AM ]
Brightly lit bamboo trees in the morning sun added to our refreshing breakfast
Breakfast is in a room named Taketei (bamboo hut) with a bamboo grove visible through a large window. The bamboo were bright from the morning sun and brightened us up, too!
All the cells in our bodies were full of joy with this traditional Japanese breakfast, which was very healthy.
This breakfast even includes a hot pot and made us feel special from the morning. The hot pot had various kinds of food, so we enjoyed every single bit of it.
Our stomachs were totally full after the meal. This was the very last thing on our trip, but we felt like, "We want the fun to continue!" That's how much energy we got from this trip.
[ 10:00 AM ] Check out
Fun to walk through, impressive to see and satisfying to stay.
Hakuunkaku Hot spring in Yuba
Satisfying and fulfilled. These words fit this inn. The design is for guests to travel through a different space than during their usual days, but this special inn also gives a hint of classic Japanese tradition. The inn was impressively graceful and elegant and at the same time gave us a sense of the good old days.