Thursday, January 24, 2019

Ryokan Experience at Miyamasou 美山荘, Kyoto JAPAN

In Winter 2016, it was my first time experiencing a Ryokan 旅館 or traditional Japanese inn. Miyamasou 美山荘 was not only famous for their unique Kyoto mountain lodging, their restaurant was also highly recognized and was already awarded with 2 Michelin stars at the time.

Miyamasou is located deep in the northern mountain of Kyoto Prefecture, about 1.5 hour driving from the city of Kyoto. The Ryokan was originally built for people who needed to stay overnight when walking was the only way to visit the nearby Bujouji Temple 峰定寺. This is where the emperor stayed when he was on a pilgrimage as well.


Miyamasou 美山荘 Entrance with stone that says "Bujouji Temple Entrance Road"「峰定寺参道」(Bujouji sandou)
Once you arrive at the ryokan, you will immediately find their estate entrance that leads to parking lot, dining house, lodging house, and bath house.


Entrance to the lodging house

One of the reasons why it is so difficult to book for this Ryokan is because there is only a total of 4 guest rooms in this entire ryokan. (Source from their website) The room I am staying at is called "Sanshou." It features not only the traditional Tatami Japanese mat floor and wooden paper sliding doors, I am also admiring the wickerwork mat ceiling and circular window!

Circular window and exit to balcony

Beautiful bamboo window decor
Wickerwork mat ceiling

Japanese bamboo transoms 
It is located right next to the running river. There is a balcony that you can walk out and enjoy the winter river and fresh mountain air. I got to say, if it is much warmer like spring or autumn, I would enjoy my tea and snacks at the balcony!

Balcony and indoor lamp
Looking out to balcony and river (oops, window reflection of indoor lamp) 

I don't think I had ever experienced any bad customer service in Japan... And this ryokan experience just raised the bar for me. The service began when arrived at the parking lot. A female staff ran out to greet and invite me to my guest room. ^ v ^/

I love their welcoming treats: Tochi-mochi, Matcha, Sugar candy, and hot barley tea.

Tochi Mochi とち餅 - Mochi made from Horse Chestnut
Japanese sugar candy (Konpeitou 金平糖 / コンペイトー)
Barley tea

My luggage was neatly placed near doorway by staffs.

Luggage so neatly placed in my guest room
What I am super surprised was their way of changing the room's usage according to the time of day. Below, you see it's my room before dinner. It has a wooden coffee table and floor pillows.

Day time
Now check this out. After dinner, I came back to the same room (double checking if I came back to the same room), the bed was made comfortably with traditional charcoal heating pack inside the bed. They literally warm up the bed for you so you will feel the warm bedding sheets. Love it!

Night time
PS: All these services are part of the ryokan experience. I didn't request anything and didn't pay extra for any of those services. Not to mention that every time the staff coming in and out of my room, they bow before they step inside the room and before they leave the room. Just impressive hospitality from the smallest detail.


Bath House. View from dining house. Lodging house on the right.

View from the river side. Guest room to the left, dining house to the middle, bath house to the right
There are two bathing rooms in the bath house. Both rooms have huge window so that you can enjoy river and mountain scenery while relaxing and showering. (No curtains > 0 <) I am no expert in Japanese style bathing, but the basic is to shower first and then enjoy the hot water tub.

Small Bathing room: tub and shower area 


Breakfast and dinner are served at the dining house. When you are staying here overnight, breakfast and dinner are included. (Except additional orders like alcohol) You should let them know what time you prefer to start dinner and breakfast.


Walking back to lodging house (left) from breakfast
Ryokan experience at Miyamasou during winter absolutely exceeded my expectation of traditional Ryokan lodging in Japan. You can feel the amazing hospitality when you first arrived at this winter wonderland. Even though it's a lot colder in the mountain region, it's really worth it to experience Miyamasou with those beautiful, magical white powdered snow!

You can count how many staffs work in this ryokan, and you can see how they are trying their best to make sure you feel comfortable and warm by offering you hot tea and snacks. I am also glad that they speak pretty good English!

Please note that my experience was based on the season of snowy December, which will probably be totally different if you are staying in Autumn, Spring, or Summer.


Learn more about Miyamasou in depth by reading Tom Downey's article "The Original Forager: Miyamasou"


For breakfast, learn more at HERE.
For the 2-Michelin star dinner, make sure to read the review at HERE.

Miyamasou 美山荘


Phone: +81 75-746-0231


1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh how gorgeous this place is, and your post describing it was perfect. I have never been to Japan and not at all familiar with certain customs. For instance, you say there are 2 baths and 4 guestrooms. From this I gather that it is 1 for men and 1 for women? What if other women want to use it at the same time? Forgive my long question, but I have absolutely no clue what 'the norm' is for bathing houses.