Experience traditional luxury in private dining rooms and open-air onsen
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History & culture
Separated from Tokyo by the country’s Alps, Takayama is defined by its distance from rather than its proximity to the Japanese capital. Tucked away among the Hida mountains, the city made its name in feudal Japan for its highly skilled carpenters whose work can still be seen in Takayama’s Edo Period Old Town where rickshaw-trammelled streets lead to dark wood merchant homes and sake breweries. You’ll also find an open-air Folk Village museum and morning markets as its cherry blossom festival is one of the most renowned in Japan. The ryokan itself is set on the quiet outskirts of town – accessed by complimentary shuttle bus – where you can enjoy the hotel’s onsen in peace.
Making use of Japanese cedar, Hanaougi’s timber construction is a traditional delight. You’ll enter through a flame-lit lobby where impressive beams branch from a huge keyaki tree and a cosy fireplace adds a convivial warmth. Its 17 rooms are equally welcoming with rice straw tatami mats, low-rise furniture and sliding doors making for authentic stays. If budget permits, look to upgrade to a room with a terrace where an open-air bath looks out over the Japanese gardens. And, in accordance with the tenets of omotenashi hospitality, the same serving lady will take care of you from arrival to departure.
In typical ryokan fashion, guests enjoy multicourse dinners and traditional breakfasts. Delicately marbled Hida beef and ayu sweet fish are prepared alongside fresh vegetables on a traditional open hearth as meals span up to 15 courses. Start with cherry blossom tofu before moving onto fried tempura delights after sushi salmon, stew, soup and sashimi courses. With reference to kaiseki principles, steak and fish are cooked in front of guests in private rooms and wild vegetables are sourced locally while dishes complement not only flavour but colour and texture as well. Western cuisine can be served as a palate cleanser.
The ryokan’s heart is its entrance hall. The same craftsmen who worked on the local temples have turned their hands and pristine, no-nails techniques to oversized beams and the Hanaougi’s intimate bar. Relax here with a sake or sip on cups of green tea in the courtyard, overlooking the nishikigoi koi pond. However, its onsen, fed by the Jindai spring is the ryokan’s standout feature. Heated water is drawn from a source some 1,200 metres below ground as open-air baths are available for private rental as larger.
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