When friends tell me they are visiting Japan for the first time, I always recommend them to stay one night at a ryokan for the ‘true’ Japanese experience. Most ryokan offers 一泊一食 meaning one night stay with two meals, two meals meaning breakfast and dinner. A traditional Kaiseki dinner is usually served at dinner, simply means a multi-course Japanese dinner.
Check In Date
We were not quite sure if this was the right ryokan as the English name was not vivid from distance. Once our car was in their driveway, their staffs ran towards our car to ask for our booking name. Upon confirming our booking, they quickly unloaded our luggage and led us to the reception area for check in.
We were then introduced to Mr Ben Ng who was the main contactee through email, he was from Hong Kong and spoke Cantonese too. Ben then let us choose our own yukata from a good selections of yukata. There were many colours and patterns to choose from.
Ben led us to our room where we were seated in the livingroom, he also served us hot green tea and a welcome snack. He went through the booklet on the coffee table, introducing the Gero onsen area and the ryokan itself. He advised us to go for a walking in this historical town and decided the time for dinner and breakfast which wasn’t served in the room but at the dining area in the ryokan.
Japanese-Western style room with private open-air onsen bath
和洋室Room with 露天温泉inside
The first room you enter is the foyer after opening the door, this is where we need to take off the slippers they provided us at the lobby.
The biggest room and in the centre is the livingroom where there is tatami floor and we were told we cannot drag our suitcase over the tatami flooring. There was a table in the middle with two tatami chairs which made it really uncomfortable to sit and watch TV, as I am not too used to crossing my legs or leaving them straight on the tatami. Despite it’s a traditional Japanese room, the furniture and modern is well maintained and looks new to me.
From the side of the living room is the doorway to the bedroom, which is separated by a wooden sliding door. The two single beds are simply two mattress on the raised flooring. The mattress was very comfortable, however they do move around easy as the flooring underneath is squeaky clean. The wall socket was also right by the mattresses so you can charge your smart phone, so attentive.
From the living-room, you can access the balcony which is also connected to the open-air bath. The balcony overlooks the river and the hillside nearby. This is a quaint town in the countryside which makes it perfect for relaxing in the onsen
There is no shower indoor, there is only a separate room for the toilet and another for the wash basin. There is a TOTO toilet which I absolutely loved, I visited during winter when it was cold, so the warmed up toilet seat was my holy grail. Towels, tootbrushes, face cream, face wash, hairdryer and other amenities are available which was very attentive of them. One thing to note when you are staying at a ryokan in Japan is the slippers they provide are not the disposable ones so if you do not like wearing slippers that has been used before, I suggest you to bring your own slippers. In saying that, Japanese people are very clean and care about hygiene so the slippers are in good condition.
The only shower is located at the balcony next to the open air onsen, there is also a blind which you can let down to avoid being watched from the outside. I visited during autumn/winter and it was very cold to shower outside, so it was a wise idea to jump into the open-air bath straight away. Honestly, my onsen bath seems more like a normal bath, quite different from what I was expecting. I was hoping for more of a Japanese style bath. However, it was really relaxing to enjoy the onsen early in the morning with a green tea by my side.
Around the Ryokan
The ryokan is very well maintained, did not find any dirt or dust in the lobby or around the ryokan. There is a souvenir shop by the lobby where they sell alot of beauty products that you can only get in Gero, for example the facial spray made from the mineral hot spring water in Gero, mask made in Gero etc Not only do they sell beauty products but snacks from Gifu prefecture too.
Outside and area
You can read more about Gero Onsen town here
Dinner and restaurant
There were two time slots for dinner and I picked the latest time so I will have more time to soak in my onsen beforehand. Some ryokans serves dinner in the room that you are staying, however they serve dinner at a private room at the dining area here at Yukyunohana. You are expected to wear the yukata you chosen to dinner, however this time round I did not, as I had trouble putting it on. Once I arrived at my private dining room, the lady has already setted up dinner and most dishes were already on the table.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, there were so much food, it was more than 7 courses. Once we sat down, we was served with a small glass of plum wine. We were told to start off with a platter of starters which was served in a basket. started off with some grilled gingko on skewers, beef rolls, steamed tofu and some radishes. Next was the fresh seasonal sashimi which was very fresh and sweet
As we were in the Gifu Prefecture, where Hida beef (a type of wagyu) is famous, there were two dishes that was Hida beef. First was the Hida beef sushi, the beef was seared till the edge was crispy, topped with finely chopped spring onion. The next dish is a special dish and only available in Gifu area, Hida beef on magnolia leaf with miso. The raw wagyu on magnolia leaf is slow cooked on a stone grill, the main seasoning is the miso. It does take some time to cook the wagyu thoroughly so we are advised to start eating all the other dishes then the beef will be ready towards the end. I cannot describe how delicious this dish is and only available in Gifu!
The main course served was a wagyu steak, this was more fusion with a cream sauce and gravy on top. The steak was perfectly pink and medium-rare, while the edges were slightly and aromatically charred. Rice was also served half way with pickles and miso soup. I was surprised to find a small bowl of oden on the side which I nearly missed, To finish off, a plate of fresh fruit was served, the piece of melon was extremely juicy and sweet!
The Kaiseki dinner served here was one of the best I have had. There were less seafood and more on the Hida beef which was worth my money. Every dish was designed beautifully and I could tell only the best of the best ingredients were used. The dinner was approximately two hours long and every minute was worthwhile. The setting and ambiance was perfect!
There was also two timing slots for breakfast, I chose the later one again which was at 7:30am and check out is at 10am. Breakfast was served in the same room as dinner and you are expected to wear the yukata provided again.
Varieties of Japanese pickles was served with rice and miso soup. traditional Japanese breakfast will have have grilled fish and tofu. The breakfast was simple and healthy, a great way to start off the day.
- Attentive and polite staffs
- Great communications
- Clean and well maintained ryokan
- Heartwarming food with love
- Private dining room
- Cantonese speaking staff
- English booklet
- Yukata provided
- Open air onsen was not so ‘Japanese’
- Shower is on the outside
- TV was too small
- No sofa
Yukyunohana is definitely affordable and worth every penny of your money. From the top notched service to the endless dishes of the dinner, this would be one of the most memorable stay I have had in Japan
Would I go back again? Yes, definitely
Rating from my brain (out of 5 hearts): ♥♥♥♥♥
Rating from my heart (out of 5 hearts): ♥♥♥♥
Overall rating (out of 10 hearts) : ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ 9/10
Gero Onsen Yukyunohana – 悠久の華