Anniversary get-away

We usually don’t make a big deal out of our wedding anniversary. A quiet dinner in a nice restaurant is about all we ever really do to celebrate. This year we had such a busy July that we decided to do something really nice for ourselves to celebrate our years together.

Both of us love quiet out of the way places. Little hideaway spots tucked into the mountains are just right for our taste. At first we thought of going to Beppu but we always go to Beppu. In recent years it has gotten so touristy and crowded so we said…nah…not Beppu.

About a week before our anniversary date hubby looked at me over his computer screen and said….”come and look at this”. I crawled over (we sit on the floor here) to his side of the Japanese table to see what it was he wanted me to look at. He had been searching for a roykan (traditional Japanese inn) and found one that looked wonderful. It was located in Yamaguchi prefecture-Honshu. Honshu is the island “above” us.

The bridge between Kyushu and Honshu.

We looked over the photos and reviews together and decided to give it a try.

The drive to Ichinomata Onsen Grand Hotel took about 2 hours. It’s actually a beautiful drive that crosses the Kanmon Straits and climbs up into the mountains and 田舎 inaka (the deep countryside) of Yamaguchi prefecture.

Once you exit the urban expressway in Ozuki, Yamaguchi you drive through a small town for a couple of minutes before you have to take the road that leads up into the surrounding mountains. It’s about a thirty minute drive from town through nothing but rice fields, ancient farm houses and forest. There was literally nothing else around. No shops….definitely no convenience stores..nothing but wilderness and farms. It was perfect!

We both noticed that most of the buildings in the area were ancient looking. We guessed most houses looked at least 70-100 years old. Most were well maintained. There were lots of farm houses with beautiful old barns and out buildings.

We saw the sign for the onsen a minute or so before we saw the buildings tucked into the side of the mountain. There was nothing else around and we knew instantly we made the right choice!

We checked in and the service was awesome with a personalized welcome and short orientation of the facilities. I could see beautiful gardens through the lobby windows.  We were escorted to our room by a lovely young lady who made us feel so welcome.

The view from our room was awesome!

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early afternoon
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twilight

We stood for a long time and just gazed out the window. About an hour later we gathered our bath bags and headed down to the private bath that we had reserved. The onsen is really the attraction of most ryokan. Some have private bath facilities that can be reserved. They are totally private-no one peeks in the windows! There are fences and privacy screens around the private bath and around the shared bath facilities. This onsen does not have co-ed bathing although some of the really old onsen do. We have never visited one and don’t plan on visiting one.

We had the private bath for an hour and we took every second of our allotted time. It was so luxurious! The waters have a high alkaline content and my skin felt wonderful after bathing. I did also enjoy the shared onsen early the next morning. It was very quiet with only a few other ladies bathing at 6:30 am.

The ryokan has two floors and all the guest rooms as well as the Japanese style dining room are on the second floor.  The first floor hosts the onsen, a small coffee bar, lobby, gift shop, restaurant and private bath area.

The entrance to the private bath and onsen area.

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The hallway leading to the onsen and private bath area and the relaxation room between the men’s and women’s onsen.

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total serenity

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the small coffee bar and lobby across from the gift shop

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side view of the gardens

Our dinner was brought to our room. What a wonderful treat! The photo shows only part of what was brought in! The entire table was filled with little dishes and such. It was more food than we could even eat.

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We are definitely visiting there again. As a matter of fact we already have plans for late October. We won’t be going alone though. After telling family about the ryokan it was decided that father-in-laws birthday will be celebrated here. I’m sure the autumn season will be lovely !

Be sure to click on the link to the website as there are more photos there.

What an awesome and out of the way place…a little slice of heaven!

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