Thursday, 16 May 2013

Yunoshimakan stay in February 2013, by Eileen from Singapore

We journeyed from our 1st ryokan at Hagi Takayama (see separate review) to Gero Onsen on February 20, 2013. It's a comfortable 46mins ride from Takayama to Gero on the Ltd Exp Wide View Hida.

Once again, we used Japanese Guest Houses for our reservations and they did a wonderful job of providing us with the needed information to help us in our journey. The service is in English and that’s a real help for people like us who hardly speak or read Japanese.

Hot Spring bath at Yunoshimakan

The full top rating is based on the type of room we had + food and service. The ryokan has many other type of rooms so we cant speak for those which we didnt stay in.

Our stay was for 3 nights starting on 20 Feb 2013. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary and Japanese Guest Houses reserved a KEISANZOU room in the Chuang Kageyama new bldg. It came with our own onsen bath tub which is piped in with 100% onsen water. Lovely!

This is so convenient esp in the morning when we don’t feel like walking the distance to the public baths and want our own private soak.

Being winter, we paid around Y36,966 (including all taxes) per night for this type of room. I believe the cost is higher in the peak seasons.

The shuttle picked us up around 1.30pm at the Gero station (tiny station which probably gets jam packed during peak season).
Dinner at Yunoshimakan

When we arrived at the ryokan, we needed to remove our footwear which they kept for the rest of the stay.

Everything was super efficient for our check in (which is pretty normal from all our frequent travels in japan) and off we went to our room on the 9th floor, with a staff showing and explaining as we went along. Ladies get to choose their yukatas whilst men wear those provided in the rooms.

Yunoshimakan has quite a bit of history surrounding it and they have pictures of the Imperial family on their walls, famous guests, plenty of artifacts. Practically like a little museum on certain floors. Although it has an “old” feel about it in some areas, we appreciated the history and background behind it.

A very interesting maze of corridors and one can get lost at times. To encourage others to explore the grounds, they have this piece of paper where you get to rubber stamp each place that you have found on the chart. If you collect all your stamps, it entitles you to 10% off beverages at the coffee house and 2 other little perks. Good and innovative idea to encourage guests to explore the place.

The place is pretty huge and its quite a walk from the lobby to our wing. But that was part of the fun as we were able to view quite a bit of artifacts along the way.
Guest room at Yunoshimakan

The public onsens on the 2nd floor are really very nice esp the outdoor ones. Even the indoor ones are rather large. Opened from 1pm – 10am (interchanged for ladies & men). Each has an indoor + an outdoor attached to it. Toiletries are in the dressing room are not as extensive as some ryokans – They do have a set of face & milk lotion but don’t expect a large array of creams and lotions and gels.

There are about 4 free small enclosed family baths on the 4th floor which is first come first served. We managed to view 2 out of the 4. These were rather tiny & more suitable for single guests who want to enjoy the privacy & don’t mind the enclosed space with no views. Each of the dressing rooms attached to these baths are pretty quant – like something out of a british enid blyton novel.

Because this ryokan is much larger, the chill was more pronounced in these corridors esp in the old wing.

I guess its prudent for the hotels to cut down on power consumption during the non busy hours (since problems re nuclear plants cropped up). Also, this nice old ryokan has limitations when it comes to heating up the corridors esp in the old wing.

As guests, may we encourage others to switch off all unnecessary lightings when leaving the room – to help the country conserve their energy usage.

The girl who served us the meals in the room was very sweet and efficient. We opted for meals in our room (choice of between 5.30pm to 7pm). We chose 7pm. The kaiseki dinners were sumptuous.. What a feast – this is true kaiseki and you have to be prepared to be “adventurous”.

We did however, request no raw meat in case they served raw beef or horse meat. The Hida beef for sukiyaki and over the fire just melts in our mouth. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!!

We went for our breakfast at 8.30am in the dining room. Again, good Japanese selection – the typical ryokan dishes with all sorts of condiments and little items.

The ryokan is perched on a hill and is surrounded by nice tall trees, with the mountains afar off. So its not convenient for strolling into town if that’s what you prefer.

Frankly, the gero onsen area in our opinion, looked pretty grey and unattractive with rather ugly looking buildings in some areas. Rather different from Takayama .
From the train between Takayama and Gero Onsen

Most guests go there for the very good quality onsen water. We can understand its popularity as our skins really felt so smooth after each soak.

It’s just about 5 mins plus from Yunoshimakan to the Gero station. Hence we had enough time when we left with the 10am shuttle, to catch our Limited Express at 10:26am back to Nagoya.

The winter scenery on our day of departure from the ryokan was really pretty. Some trees from a distance looked like white cherry blossoms. The ryokan has quite a bit of surrounding greenery with trees – so it was lovely.

We were treated to different winter views from our balcony throughout the 3 night stay. It's so magical esp when it starts to snow.

The train journey back to Nagoya is also very picturesque esp in winter.
Room Tip: If you can afford it, reserve the Keizanso room which has a nice sitting area with a little sofa and...

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