Time of year: Mid-October 2016
Purpose of trip: This was a one night stopover during our round the world trip. We particularly wanted to experience a traditional ryokan whilst in Japan.
Why we chose this place: Miyajima is an island with many Shinto and Buddhist temples and shrines, set amongst beautiful wooded hills. It was a place that we wanted to visited and seemed a good spot to find a ryokan. Research on Tripadvisor led us to book the Ryoso Kawaguchi.
How long we stayed: One night.
Our accommodation: The hotel has only 7 rooms and we stayed in Gunjo. The room was laid out traditionally with a low table and chairs and two futons. There was a small balcony with table and chairs which overlooked the garden. The wardrobe had two kimonos, belts and jackets for us to wear during our stay.
The room had an en-suite toilet and basin. There are two traditional onsen bathrooms downstairs. It is definitely worth experiencing the onsen during your stay – a lovely large, relaxing bath which is yours alone (most onsen in Japan are communal).
Service: Our hostess, Yoko, couldn’t do enough for us during our stay. She explained the traditions thoughtfully. I suspect that she knows that people that book a stay are independent travellers who want to understand. She gets it just right.
All of the other staff in the hotel were incredibly polite, as we came to expect in Japan.
Location: The ryokan is less than a 10-minute walk from the ferry, in a street behind the main touristy area. The great Torii is a few minutes walk away. Miyajima is definitely worth a visit and it was particularly lovely once the daytrippers had ebbed away.
Food: We opted for the dinner and the breakfast when we booked. Tripadvisors reviewers had raved about the food, and now we know why.
We came down to dinner in our kimonos and ate one of the best meals that we had ever had. Seven courses rattled by … from delicate fish starters, to sashimi of yellow fin tuna and sea bream, to cook it yourself chicken dumplings with mushrooms, culminating in the finest beef fillet with a blueberry sauce. It was all exquisite.
For breakfast there is a choice of Japanese-style or Western-style. Whilst we are travelling, we are finding that unfamiliar flavours and textures are best left until later in the day, so, rightly or wrongly, we opted for the Western-style. We enjoyed fresh fruit, yogurt, fried eggs, hot dog style sausages and toast. Very nicely cooked and a great kick-off to a day’s sight-seeing.
What we paid: The room rate for 2 people included tax was 15,120yen (about £118). Dinner was an additional 5,400yen (about £42) per person and breakfast an additional 1,080yen (about £8) per person.
Activities close by: The Itsukushima Shrine is nearby, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It includes the nearby great Torii gate, which appears to be floating in the sea at high tide. There are many other Shinto and Buddhist shrines and temples in the area. Miyajima has large populations of deer (which you will see wandering the streets of the town) and monkeys. It is an island of great natural beauty.
What empty nesters might really like about this place: Yoko is a great hostess and will make you feel at home and answer any questions you have about Japanese culture, traditions and cuisine.If you want an authentic ryokan experience, you can’t beat this.
What empty nesters might not be so keen on: Some people might dislike not having bathing facilities en suite. We have to say that padding downstairs in kimonos to the onsen was a highlight.
We did our Japan adventure independently as part of a round the world trip. If escorted tours are more your thing, this trip with Titan Tours covers a similar itinerary: