Japan 2012: Day 2 Hakone Part 4

Day 3: 18 December 2012 (Con’t)

Back to Togendai from the cruise ship. It is around 4-plus – which means the sun is setting pretty fast ……

One of the must-do in my itinerary was to enjoy an authentic ryokan and onsen/hot springs experience and there is no better place to do it other than in Hakone! During the trip-planning process, searched through more than 20 hotels/ryokans online (no kidding! I really had 20 to 30 hotels on my shortlist) before finally settling on my accomodation for the night – Ashinoko Ichinoyu …… The ryokan is actually located within vicinity of Lake Ashi, thus the decision made to end the course at Togendai for the day and head back to ryokan for a rest before dinner ……

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Based on the map that I had on hand, noted that it is one round walk in order to reach the ryokan ……

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Some sights along my walk back to the ryokan. It is a very quiet road with small shops (which are closed really early). After around 8 min, saw the Kojiri Terminal, which as indicated on my map is the roundabout that will lead me to the road that will bring me to the ryokan. Bus was not an option as only the Izu Bus service runs on this road (which I will have to top up additional fare as Izu Buses are not covered under the free pass) ……

After another 7 min walk (around 15 min in total), the ryokan is in sight!

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Checked in around 1630 hrs. Whilst on the way to my allocated room, was briefed by the friendly reception staff of the private time slots (evening) for the open air onsen/hot springs (this was one of the main reasons why I chose this ryokan) ….. and quickly booked my slot for 2300 hrs (11pm) before heading to my room ……

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Also saw at the reception the cupboard with diffrerent sizes of yukata (in case the one in the room doesn’t fit) …. very thoughtful of the hotel staff to have this provision!

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The room itself ……

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Although Ashinoko Ichinoyu is supposed to be a traditional style ryokan (on the mid budget end), the Japanese style twin room that I booked actually comes with Western beds (rather than the traditional tatami mat). On hindsight, not such a bad idea after all to have the comfort of a mattress especially if you are not so used to the tatami style 😛

After lazing around the room for a while, there was enough time for me to do a quick dip in the indoor onsen just before dinnertime at 1800 hrs (6pm) ….. no pictures of indoor onsen as do not want my camera to be lost …..

After onsen, the next highlight was the full course kaiseki dinner (got the room together with 2 meals packaged in for the overall experience) …… Kaiseki is a traditional, multi-course Japanese dinner served to guests. More information can be found here. This was also one of the main reasons I chose this ryokan as being my 1st time in Japan, I had wanted an authentic experience of a traditional kaiseki dinner, and relaxing to onsen in the downtime! Another reason for choosing Ichinoyu was also that the sample menu looked really delicious on the website, heh! So here we go ……

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Start of the dinner ……

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Appetizers …… found the steamed tofu with yuzu flavour to be very unique!

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The main courses – consisting of a grilled squid (my favourite of all the dishes!) …. deep fried sole (a type of fish) which I find it more of an acquired taste …. and pork shabu shabu (it’s supposed to be Hakone grown local pork) which was perfect for winter …… My appetite was so ‘good’ that I even added on additional udon (which goes very well with shabu shabu), only to realize I’ll end up very very full as there was already rice 😛

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Dessert – sherbet ice cream + black tea to help me digest this very heavy, and very satisfying dinner …… I thought this was easily one of the best meals I had in Japan, and definitely tasted as good as the pictures on the website. Unlike the more famous kaiseki meals in Hakone (Gora Kadan, Hotel Okada) which would probably costed a lot more as well, I thought Ichinoyu’s offerings were tasty, and yet with a very down-to-earth, homely feel! So happy that I took this ryokan over my original choice of Fujimien initially …….

Lazed around in my room post dinner, channel surfing on the TV and trying to figure out the bus schedules and my route for the next morning (before heading back to Tokyo around noon time) …… Went for my private onsen at 2300 hrs (11pm) and thoroughly enjoyed the privacy of having the outdoor bath all to myself although it was really really cold (probably less than 5 degrees) but it was all ok once I got into the bath and got used to the temperature. Ashinoko Inchinoyu actually uses the Ubako hot springs water – which is said to be effective against various diseases and symptoms such as neuralgia, joint pain, poor circulation, and high-blood pressure. (Source: http://kanagawa-travel-info.com/english/tourism_articles/181) …… No pictures as I didn’t find it safe to bring along my camera and leave it unattended.

Was very comfortable after my onsen, and continued to laze and laze before sleeping really soundly …..

Some links here:

Ashinoko Ichinoyu – http://english.ichinoyu.co.jp/ashinokoqs/

** you can see the designs of the room, the indoor and outdoor onsen, as well as the seasonal meal plans.

My Tripadvisor Review – http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/ShowUserReviews-g298171-d1133015-r148074804-Ashinoko_Ichinoyu-Hakone_machi_Ashigarashimo_gun_Kanagawa_Prefecture_Kanto.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

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