Here’s the last part of my #HiJapan series! If you haven’t seen my past Japan posts on my Capsule Hotel Experience and Japan Airlines Business Class review as well as exploring Shuzenji Village, go check them out first 🙂
Shuzenji Village was the ultimate destination and the highlight of our Japan trip. I wanted to treat my mom to a relaxing hot springs vacation in Japan, so I chose Shuzenji- a tiny village known for its mineral hot springs (onsen in Japanese) and has now become a tourist spot. Today, I want to talk about where we stayed in Shuzenji.
I booked a room at Arai Ryokan after reading lots of reviews and seeing plenty of video/pictures beforehand. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese-styled inn but don’t let the word ‘inn’ fool you, because it’s a luxury even among locals. My mom and I always wanted to stay at a ryokan, and we’re so glad we finally did!
Our room came with tatami floors, a living room + dining area, a separate room for tea and looking out the window, a balcony area, a sink area, a toilet area (yes, the toilet and sink were not together in the same room for some reason), and a private bath room which we did not end up using.
They also provided some basic amenity kits like towels, the yukata (traditional Japanese robe), toothbrush and socks.
Mineral Hot Springs Bath (Onsen)
Arai Ryokan had 5 baths in total (2 private and 3 public including one outdoors) with mineral hot springs water. Guests who stay the night have access to them, but visitors who are not staying the night can also use the public baths with a fee. There were also ryokans all over the village who offered the same or Luckily, my mom and I never ran into anyone and we had the baths to ourselves every single time!
What I found interesting was rather than having separate men and women baths, the same baths were used but on different time slots. There were blue curtains to represent men and red curtains to represent men, and these curtains would switch off by time slots at the entrance of each bath. For example, the red curtains would be up for one of the baths from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., and blue curtains would be up from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Kaiseki (traditional Japanese course meal)
Having a kaiseki meal has been on my bucket list for the longest time! Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese course meal that can last up to 2.5 hours. I don’t exactly know the title, but each guest has a “maid” that cleans the room, serves the food, makes the bed, etc. during our stay. This maid brings out a sequence of dishes that are freshly made each day, and to say that these dishes were gorgeous and tasty is an understatement.
Each dish was beautifully displayed and was based on fresh catches of the day arranged with seasonal foods. Our entire kaiseki meal took about 2 hours for everything and it’s probably been one of the most satisfying meals visually! I’ve seen some reviews where some people didn’t like certain dishes, but I am not a picky eater and I love seafood so the entire menu worked out for me.
Breakfast and dinner were part of what we paid for, but we had to leave really on the last day. The staff prepared a sushi bento box with drinks for us to have on our ride to the airport!
Arai Ryokan had the friendliest staff and we absolutely enjoyed our stay. It was such a relaxing vacation that my mom and I both needed, and it was the perfect way to wind down after a long flight from DFW as well as a nice break before the crazy schedule ahead of us in Korea!
I’ve once again put together a recap video. If you’re more of a visual person and prefer the unfiltered footage, watch the video below. As always, thank you for reading 🙂