Visiting a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and soaking in the natural hot springs is a wonderful experience - the one we found in Takayama, Japan was one of the highlights of our trip!
Deep in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu, there lies a quiet little village called Fukuji Hot Springs. This village is the home of Kakurean Hidaji, a beautiful ryokan with both communal and private open air baths. Since both Lawrence and I have tattoos, finding a ryokan with a private onsen was a MUST as they are prohibited at most public or communal hot springs.
After about four days of nonstop activities in Tokyo and five hours of traveling by bus, we were ready to soak in the heat of the natural spring water. But first we needed to find the place! There weren’t many structures in the village, so although we did get turned around at first, it didn’t take long to reach our destination where one of the hotel staff was waiting outside for us as the snowfall was starting to thicken.
Once inside, we were instructed to take off our outside shoes and change into indoor slippers provided by the inn. Our bags were set aside and we were led to a cozy table at the opposite side of the lobby. The check-in process involved a warm cup of tea and a few treats as they explained the rules of the facility, all the amenities, local fare, as well as reviewing the following day’s bus schedule to ensure we made it to our next destination on time.
They then whisked us away to our rooms where we immediately disrobed and changed into the much more comfortable yukatas provided. We then tested out our private bath and outdoor spring and roamed the halls of the inn to find this mind-blowing "milk" that people always insist we try. After soaking in the mineral rich water, it was definitely refreshing and the Hida milk we had is by far the best milk we've ever tasted!
Eventually it was about time to set out for dinner which is included with the cost of the room. And what a spread it turned out to be! Everything was made fresh with local ingredients.
We ended the night with dessert and onigiri. The following morning we squeezed in one more soak in the hot spring before breakfast where we absolutely fell in love with the hoba miso! They sell hoba miso kits at the market across from Kakurean Hidaji, and our one regret was not buying any while we were there.
Soon after breakfast it was time to leave for the bus stop, so we headed back to the room to pack our things and walked the short distance to our bus stop. The snowfall only lasted through the night and as we were leaving the inn the sun had already begun to melt away the snow and icicles that had formed overnight. It was truly a magical experience and we will definitely be back here in the near future!
And if you are planning a trip to Japan and happen to wander through Takayama, be sure to give this ryokan a try! Let us know in the comments below if you plan to go or have been here before. We'd love to hear your thoughts!