Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Japan Kantō Winter Drive to Mt Fuji - Part 5 (Ryokan Tokinoniwa 季の庭)

On the last day we check-in into 湯宿 季の庭(ときのにわ)Tokinoniwa
[Official Website]. It is an onsen ryokan situated in the southern part of Kusatsu town. They are part of the Kyoritsu Resort Group and their establishments are usually nice and stylish.

After we parked the car and walked into the main hall, the first thing we were told to do was to take off our shoes before we stepped onto the reception area. Initially I thought it was a hassle to take off my shoes and then have to wear them again when we go to the rooms. It was later then I realized that the entire building was covered with tatami mat! 

Still had my shoes on...

The last time I saw my shoes until I checked-out!

Everyone's just wearing socks!

The interior of the building was enclosed and heated.

My wife even took off her socks! (- -;)
First and foremost... I was very glad I didn't have (too many) holes in my socks~ LOL~ The walk from the main building to the annex was comfortable. The building was heated and the walk on the tatami mat gave the place a very luxurious feel~ It feels a bit like home~

Map of Tokinoniwa

I paid around ¥53,000 for a night, including dinner and breakfast for 2 adults and 1 child. The room came with a semi-outdoor private onsen, a tatami area and a bedroom with 2 beds., perfect for the 3 of us!

The tatami area once we enter the room

2 beds in another room

The semi-outdoor onsen
But the semi-outdoor onsen wasn't what drawn me to this place. The ryokan has 3 private outdoor onsen free for use. Many other places will charge a fee for 30-50minutes use of such private onsen bath, but this place allows their guests to queue up and use for as many times as they like during their stay~ Wonderful!

When its your turn, you will have to wear a pair of clogs as the private family onsen baths are situated outside the main building. Basically have to walk through a snow path to reach them~

Walk to the onsens!

There will be clogs for you to wear as the private onsens are outside the main building.
The 1st onsen we tried was pretty open. Unfortunately it was too windy and it was a tough decision whether to stay inside the hot water or stand up and get attacked by the cold winter wind... Wasn't that enjoyable so we got our body warmed up enough in the water and quickly got changed to try another onsen.
The 1st onsen - too open to the elements... COLD WIND BLOW~
The 2nd onsen was a winner~ It has a wooden roof, overlooking the forest and have just the right balance of openness and privacy to it. It was just nice enough for the 3 of us and I liked the fact that it was made with rocks instead of wood. Even when it gets a bit too warm, I can just step out for a moment without feeling terrorized by the cold wind.

Large enough for a mahjong group of 3-4

J made a mini-snowman... 

Nice and cozy~
We took a look at the 3rd onsen and decided it wasn't worth our time (and our skins were already half-cooked by then!) We made our way back to the room for a little nap before heading for an dinner~

Dinner was served in their restaurant and we were led to a cozy little cubicle. They have a set meal for kids and J was very happy with the food they served. Nearly all ryokans in Japan charge based on the number of guests. For J, the rate was 50% of adult price so its fair his food wasn't as exquisite as ours...

And by exquisite I meant a kaiseki meal for both of us~

There was the option of 山の幸 or 海の幸, which really means you want seafood or steak? (^ ^;) We opted for 1 of each so we get to try everything~



山の幸 or 海の幸? Have both!

There were 2 sessions for dinner, the 5:30pm or 8:00pm. By the time we finished dinner it was only around 7:30pm so we took a walk around the compound with the snow boots that the hotel has placed at the exits. By 8:00pm we were back in our room and found a coffee grinder!

Tadaa~ A coffee grinder!

The missus trying her hand at coffee grinding~

After our little experiment with coffee beans, it was time to make full use of the onsen bath in our room~

And from 9:00pm there was free ramen! A perfect supper after a hot bath~ The serving was pretty generous and came with a slice of chashu~

With my body very clean (after at least 3 baths!?) and filled, it was time to sleep~ But even before the food had a chance to be digested, the next morning's breakfast was waiting for us. And again a huge portion!

I felt full just looking at the breakfast spread ^_^;

After breakfast there was still some time before we had to check-out, so its one last soak before we leave Kusatsu~ I was so glad I got the late 12:00 check-out~

Checking-out~ Time to wear our shoes!

After checking-out at the reception area, we saw our 3 pairs of shoes lined up at the doorway waiting for us. You got to admire the Japanese people's attention to such details. It felt like a long time since I saw my shoes and I was glad for it~

Next up, the long drive back to Tokyo with a detour to Ikaho Onsen to meet our friends!

See other posts from this trip below:

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