An enchanting Ryokan that transports you to the essence of authentic Japan
You’d walk passed it if you did not know it was there, hidden behind high walls and a very plain door, but once you’re inside, you’re transported instantly into the heart of ancient Japan, into the traditional & aesthetic environment of a Ryokan. The Hiiragiya Ryokan, founded in 1818 is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite place in all the world to stay! Walking into the entranceway, suddenly everything has slowed down, you’re surrounded by tranquility, in an oasis of calm from the bustling Kyoto outside.
Stunning Japanese decor and faultless service
Your luggage is whisked away, with the ryokans trade mark holly leaf labels. You are shown to your room by a kimono wearing host, it makes you feel like returning family. The room is beautiful, stunning beautiful in that very minimal Japanese way, with screens, amazing art, tatami mats, traditional flower art, all just how it ought to be.
All is ready for your arrival….including the relaxing wooden hot tub
Overlooking the Zen Garden, your robes have been left for you to change into something more comfortable after you have taken a bath. The bathroom is a traditional, one where you wash with a small wooden stool and bowl, before you get into the bath to soak. Your wooden hot tub has already been filled, ready for your arrival. I adored this place because it was like coming home, with every comfort already prepared in anticipation.
Superb Kaiseki cuisine is served on beautiful Kyoto ceramics and lacquer ware
The evening meal is served discretely by the beautiful ladies in kimono’s. Each of the 17 course dinner is presented on a different style of Kyoto crafted ceramics & Japanese lacquer ware to display it at its best – this is the aesthetic of food at its very finest, an art form, and I relished every delicious morsel, even though it looked too beautiful to eat! Tray’s of decorated bowls, some with the signature holly leaf pattern, others more simply embellished, are a feast for the eyes, as well as displaying the amazing Kaiseki cuisine.
I love Japan, it still remains foreign, different, with it’s own very distinct architecture, language & culture.
Do visit Kyoto – Nijojo Castle and Kinkaji, the Golden temple, are two of my favourites but there are so many more! Nara and Nikko are World heritage sites that are on my “totally unmissable” list. Exploring Tokyo is also well worth it, with an excellent metro system as you’d expect. I loved Ginza, and the sneak peak of the Geisha. We also experienced Matcha – Green tea in the traditional Japanese tea gardens, where the frothy & bright green brew is served in big, beautiful bowls, the surface still bubbling from being freshly whisked.
Visit during Spring and if you time it right, you’ll see the lovely cherry blossom, a rare treat. These beautiful trees are everywhere, with their blossom drifting in the air like confetti. It’s still a very important cultural ceremony for Japan and one I hope that endures.