One of the quintessentially Japanese experiences is staying in a Ryokan, a traditional inn. They are typically found in less urban settings which meant I had not had the opportunity to experience one on previous visits but this trip included a hike along the Nakasendo trail and what better way to finish than with a stay in one of the traditional inns at Tsumago, relaxing after the day of walking in the traditional style. And so we checked in to the Fujito Inn, mostly not knowing what to expect but with high hopes. They were exceeded in just about every way.
The inn grounds include well manicured gardens in front of the building and in a center courtyard. And a traditional architecture including the large common room, shared bath areas and sliding doors (no hinges!) everywhere.
The rooms are, as expected, traditional. That means tatami mats on the floor and futons rolled out in the evening for sleeping. This was not our first night on the mats and it is certainly not my favorite sleeping arrangement, but it was comfy enough and fit well with the overall experience.
After a short stint exploring the town of Tsumago we slipped in to our yukata and had a truly spectacular experience: Dinner.
I’m rarely a fan of all-inclusive bookings; this is one of the exceptions which proves the rule. Everything was locally sourced and cooked to order that day by the wife half of the couple which owns the inn. It was served by the husband who spent plenty of time with us throughout the process, explaining what we were eating and why it was special.
The opening round of snack bites was a mix of delicious flavors and the salmon/char/trout was delicious.
But it was the steak which simply could not be beat. He didn’t use the term “kobe” and we were a couple prefectures away, but the descriptions offered of the cattle breeding & raising process suggest that it was very, very close to the same thing. So did the taste. Added bonus in it having been cooked at the table for us. (Another post I found about the Fujito suggests it is Shinsyu beef steak, but I don’t really know what that means.)
Veggies & sides, too. They were also delicious, but the meat was still the highlight.
Two desserts – one the traditional Gohei Mochi and the other a collection of green tea flavors – rounded out the meal.
I don’t know that the meals at other Ryokans can stand up to the bar which Fujito set for me. I’m not really sure many other meals could regardless of location. It really was that spectacular. And a perfect introduction to the Ryokan way of life.
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