The town Gero-Shi has been nominated as one of the top three onsen (hot spring) towns in Japan due to its quality spring water that is promised to keep your skin smooth and beautiful. Situated in central Japan, Gero is part of the Gifu prefecture and can be easily accessed by train from Nagoya city. Hidden away in the hills of the town is Yunoshimakan, a traditional Japanese hotel built in 1931.
A gem hidden up the hillsYunoshimakan is a traditional Ryokan (Japanese style Inn) hidden up in the hills of Gero. It was built in 1931 with a long history behind it. The traditional architecture of Yunoshimakan is breath-taking as you experience an authentic ryokan stay.
You can take a 15-20 minute hike up the slope, or take the shuttle service from the train station. Do inform the ryokan of your arrival time as you will be welcomed with signage of the ryokan name once you are out from the station.
Go for rooms with a private bath!There are various room types to suit your budget, starting from a basic room in the main building at 16,100 JPY (141 USD).
If budget allows you, opt for the rooms with private baths starting at 22,000 JPY (193 USD). There is an option of an indoor bath where you can open the windows fully as well as the outdoor bath which costs slightly more. These rooms are also in the new wing so do ask for the new wing during your arrival. They are brighter and of course much newer as compared to the old wing.
During winter, the indoor bath is probably a better option but you can open the windows which offer you a full view of the falling snow. The temperature of the water can be adjusted from 30-50 degrees Celsius (86-122 degrees Fahrenheit), so if you go for around 40 you may even feel cold in the winter! The bathroom comes with quality toiletries and facial products by Shiseido allowing you to further pamper your skin before and after a bath.
Royal visit by the Japanese EmperorsIf a ryokan is worthy of being visited by royalty, you know that it is a place on your bucket list. Yunoshimakan hosted the stay of the previous Emperor Showa and current Emperor Akihito. When you explore the 85 year old ryokan, you will notice some really old pictures hung up along the walkway from these royal visits.
You could probably check with the staff which room hosted the emperors in the past!
The place is a maze!To encourage visitors to explore the ryokan, they have a stamp challenge whereby you can collect stamps from various places if you find them. Yunoshimakan is a huge place, and can definitely be a maze for first-time visitors. For instance, to get to the public bath you have to head up a staircase, walk a short distance, head down another staircase, walk along a line of guest rooms, and go down another staircase again! Signage is available along the corridor, so just follow the directions indicated and you will be amazed how big the place is.
Be treated with a kaiseki dinner in your roomKaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that you can look forward to enjoying in the comfort of your room. Dinner is served between 5.30pm-7.00pm, and you can inform the staff of your preferred timing. After 7pm, dinner will be served in the restaurant which is not a popular choice unless you are back late. With the in-room dining, the staff will present the dishes to you in different stages. The staff speaks simple English, and they will point out the different dishes when serving them.
The sumptuous kaiseki starts with delicious bite-sized appetizers. It was explained that these are the appetizers that the traditional Japanese eat during the new year. Next, you will be served with shabu-shabu (hot pot), where you can opt for the famous hida-beef or seafood. You can also look forward to enjoying the fresh river fish, that is fried to golden brown. The dinner will end with a desert as well as Japanese rice. You can hardly fill your stomach with rice at the end, but do try some because the vinegared rice was simply mouth-watering! The selection of dinner will leave you satisfied and looking forward to breakfast the next morning.
Breakfast at the banquet hallThe banquet hall is on level 8 in the new wing which is elegant yet simple. Japanese breakfast is served with some appetizers, eggs, and rice. Complimentary coffee is available outside of the banquet hall where you can relax on the couch and enjoy the surrounding views from the wide windows after breakfast.
After breakfast is a good time to take a walk around outside the hotel to admire the fine architecture of the building.
A luxurious stay in a traditional ryokan
Though the price may be slightly steep compared to other hotels in Gero, a traditional ryokan like Yunoshimakan is not a place where you would go everyday. This charming and magnificent ryokan, with an in-room Kaiseki dinner, is a great reason why you should pamper yourself with a stay here when you are in Gero.
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