Ryokan Stay in Miyanoshita
Trip Start Aug 26, 2008
145Trip End Aug 17, 2009
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Where I stayed
Miyanoshita is not much more than a few apartments and shops clinging to the forested hillsides of the Hakone mountains. One large building near the edge of town houses a tiny rattling funicular cable railway which lowers a 4-person car down the hillside to the Taiseikan Ryokan.
The Taiseikan Ryokan itself is a large bathouse hotel which sits next to a boulder-strewn mountain stream. A series of clear, slightly salty, hotspring vents are channeled into a dozen-or-so baths. The Ryokan is a series of wood-and-ricepaper buildings with tatami-mat-floored guestrooms. There are two large segregated public baths with both indoor and outdoor pools. There are also outdoor private family hotsprings--one with a cedar bath and the other with two stone pools tumbling down to the stream. There is also a very HOT footbath next to a waterfall and mountain stream.
Guests arrive and are greeted at the top of the funicular railway by a hotel employee who puts them aboard and sends them down the steep creaky railway. At the bottom, a bellman with a motorized carriage met us and brought our bags to the reception desk. We left our shoes behind and were taken on a brief tour of the Ryokan before being taken to our rooms. There was time for a quick soak before a 14-course traditional Japanese meal.
Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a massage before heading to the family bath for a private soak. While the long stroll through the beautifully-lit winter woods in wooden sandals was cold, the hotspring pools were HOT. We relaxed under the twinkling stars with only the gibbeous moon peering down through the treebranches at us.
After a late Tea, we headed to the large public baths one last time before turning in for the night. For all we could tell, we were the only guests at the Ryokan. The public baths were private for us, as we were the only occupants. When we returned to our room after our last soak, we found our dinner and tea had been cleared away by unseen stewards and our futons were laid out for the night. We turned up the heat, slid the paper windows shut on the streamfront canyon view, and drifted off to sleep, heads resting on our ryeseed pillows.
The next morning, we awoke and had another soak before a tasty breakfast. Finally, regretfully, we traded our robes for our regular clothes and made our way to the front desk where our shoes were waiting for us.
Our next stop was to include the stunning views of Mt. Fuji, which decided to make an appearance on a crisp clear mountain morning.