After the weekend in Kamakura, hubby and I met up with C. and A. at Tokyo Station where the four of us took the shinkansen to Gifu for a stay at an onsen ryokan in Takayama. Neither of them had been an onsen before, and as expected both were extremely shy about the inevitable nudity. So a couple of months prior to their arrival, we did some research for a top notch onsen ryokan with private in-room baths, which makes even more sense in this particular case given it was C. and A.'s honeymoon.
From the same book where we learned of Iwanoyu at Seni Onsen, we found Katsuragi no Sato, which was a good 1 hour and 20 minutes scenic bus ride way up in the mountain. Look at this view. Wow.
Too bad I then proceeded to fall asleep. I vowed to stay awake on the way down, and I was able to catch some good photos, but most of the awesome views turned out to be on the other side of the road on the way up =.="
Anyway, the ryokan was nice and large but nowhere near the size of Iwanoyu. They only have ten rooms, and of those ten rooms only two come with a private open-air bath in the room's backyard. Luckily for us, we called far enough ahead that those two rooms were still available. Of course we snatched up both, one for ourselves and the other for C. and A. Still, we had no idea who got which room, how much each room, or even how big. I guess that's just how Japan works, heavily fueled by and dependent on trust.
The ryokan's brochure that I kept.
So trusted them we did, and pleasantly surprised we were, again. Upon arrival, we found ourselves a sizable tatami room comparable to the one we had at Iwanoyu, only more compartmentalized.
The toilet was sequestered in its own little corner, complete with its own sink.
Whereas most traditional Japanese homes have lower ceiling, this one must have had a 10-foot+ ceiling. And those aren't your average ceiling beams either. They were whole logs!
In addition to the main room where we slept, there was also a tea room with a mini floor hearth where we could heat up a tetsubin for tea. How cool was that?
Here's the powder room, the shower, and finally, the private open-air onsen in the backyard.
The ryokan consists of a main house connected to annexes through these corridors.
Here's the center courtyard.
Many of the decor around the ryokan involved a hanging swath of printed fabric, which was neat and different.
There were a couple of mini libraries also, but again not as numerous and tucked away as those at Iwanoyu.
More of the courtyard as we headed to explore yet a different annex.
The second mini library we found with a mini waterfall beyond its screen door.
Going up to the public, gender-separated baths.
Men (top) and women's (bottom) public baths.
The main house was a 150 year-old nail-free barn that was later converted, still nail-free. I regret not going up those stairs to take a look, but at the time we were rushing to get a tour of the place, trying to beat the oncoming dusk as well as dinner which was to be served promptly at 6pm.
The entrance lobby, where yukatas were on display for guests to freely pick and choose both the robe as well as the sash.
From the lobby looking out at the ryokan's entrance here.
Next up: kaiseiki dinner and breakfast with C. and A.