Staying in a traditional Japanese inn – ryokan – must be the epitome of the Japanese experience. I’m yet to get into a kimono and walk the streets of Kyoto or participate in the formal tea ceremony, but I somehow sense that staying in a ryokan could be, by far, the most authentic.

We stayed for two nights in a Ryokan in Yudanaka, and for two nights again in Takayama. In Yudanaka it seemed that almost sixty percent of the guest were Japanese, who visited the area for the weekend. The onsen at the hotel was fantastic, being a big lure in this area. In Takayama, we had no idea how many other guests there were, as breakfast and dinner were served in the privacy of our room.

The rooms were all in Japanese style, with tatami mats (woven rice straw mats, that change from sage green to straw color when aging), futon Christmas beds (the kids loved those), a decorative alcove, and a place to sit. The table is moved away to make space for the futons.

As for the food, in true to Japanese style, everything is done beautifully. Food is theatre, and here they do it well. Herewith a few photos of one of our dinner(s). Many tiny portions, always accompanied by rice and miso soup. May these photos leave you hungry and wanting to taste a titbit.

Ryokan room with the start of dinner service
Ryokan room with the start of dinner service, there is still some space left on the table. Note our decorative alcove to the left, behind the screen doors our two-seat lounge area.
The lovely waitress makes sure we know what we are doing...
The lovely waitress makes sure we know what we are doing before leaving us to it.
The menu was very enticing8
The menu…yip. I was thinking 2018 New Years Eve needs an 18-course Japanese dinner. Would be easy to do, really…
The table set for one
This is the final table setting for one person. It is a lot of food. No diet here.
This is turnip with bacon
A hot dish made of turnip and bacon.
Shiitake mushrooms for our first night at a Ryokan. We thought they were pretty decorations. Then we had to cook them
Shiitake mushrooms off the bark. We thought they were very pretty table decorations, until we had to grill them. They were delicious.
Starters of tofu, mushrooms and fish wrapped in soaked bread
Starters of tofu, mushrooms and fish wrapped in soaked bread.
Sukijaki - cooked at the table and dipped in raw egg
Sukijaki with beef, mushrooms, cabbage, leeks, spring onion. Cook slowly, then dip into raw egg and eat. Really super delicious.
Pickles are always served
Pickles are served with every meal. And then there is the nemesis: the sour prune.
Dressed for the occasion
Here we are, all dressed up for the occasion.
A thimble of urchin, just a teaspoon full
Just a thimble of urchin.
A pot of custard for desert, the local speciality and yes...you've guessed it, the best I've ever tasted
A pot of cold custard for dessert, a specialty in the Takayama area and…you’ve guessed it…the best I’ve ever had.
A litlte hot pot of fish, prawns and broccoli in a bit of oil - the first oil we got to see
Hotpot of prawn, fish, and broccoli, in an oily sauce. the first oil we’ve seen anywhere in a meal.

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