|Centrip Editorial Board
Yamakyu: Enjoy "Wa (Japanese-style)" and "Hospitality" at Takayama
Who isn't eager to take a peek into the traditions of Japan? After strolling around the old town of Hida Takayama (also called "Little Kyoto"), we recommend ending your day at a ryokan (Japanese-style hotel).
We made a reservation at the "Yamakyu", a great choice to make if you are not sure where to stay in Hida Takayama. The outward appearance resembles a Japanese- style cottage; I can't wait to get in inside!
Since Yamakyu is only 18 minutes away from Takayama station on foot, you could enjoy the walk if you are not carrying too much luggage.
The shuttle buses are also available. (Departing from Takayama Station at 13:15, 14:15, 15:15, 16:15, 17:30). The taxi won't charge you more than 1,000 yen. It is just the right distance from the downtown area. In the morning and afternoon, you can enjoy the sound of the bells ringing from the temple, located right next to the hotel.
Have a Wonderful Stay at the "Ryokan" (Japanese-style hotel)
As soon as you enter the room, a kotatsu jumps into your field of view. The kotatsu is an electric-heating bed with legs, and I can say without doubt that it is the greatest invention in human history.
During the winter, you can find a kotatsu in every room. Enjoy wagashi (Japanese sweets) with green tea to wash away the fatigue of your journey.
The best part of Japanese- style hotels, are the "Onsen" (Hot spring) and the meals.
The hot springs at Yamakyu are called "Onyoku"; they are very similar to onsen, but with minerals melted in the water.
Don't worry if you're not familiar with the etiquette for hot springs, since there are instructions for you to refer to in the dressing room.
Besides the indoor spas, there are two alternatives for open spas; the "Hinoki open spa" and the "Shigarakiyaki open spa". For the open spas, the set times for ladies and gentlemen differ according to the hotel's schedule.
We had "Hida's Kasasama Meal", a special dinner original to Yamakyu, for supper. The "Kasasama" refers to dishes cooked and passed down to the next generation by mothers. We expected the meal to be simple, though it was very elaborate. "Nimono" (Japanese-style simmered dish), "Ae-mono" (basically, vinegared vegetables), "Sashimi" (Raw fish), and "regular" fish... In addition to the standard "washoku", we enjoyed the Hida beef hotpot as well.
The dishes were not all standard "washoku"; some were arranged in western style. I assure you that staying in Yamakyu for few days will not get boring, as the menu changes on a daily basis.
The portions served at breakfast and dinner are very generous!
Yamakyu has many examples of "the essence of Japan", although this is not the only selling point of the hotel. The kind heart of the okami-san (traditional waitress), and the dedication of the owner is what has made Yamakyu such a great place.
The special & romantic interior
The interior resembles an art museum, with an romantic atmosphere to it. It almost feels like I have travelled back to the Meiji or Taisho period.
The beauty of the glass-work selected by the master is eye catching. The history behind the arts must be quite something!
You can see tomorrow's weather by looking at the chopsticks provided at Yamakyu! (The weather forecast is written on the chopsticks)
Since Takayama is located high above the ground, the weather is unpredictable. Therefore, there is a variety of "weathers" in stock.
What a wonderful service!
You can learn how to wear the "yukata" (informal cotton kimono), and the right procedures to follow when bathing in the "Onyoku", through the original description manual. There are private bathrooms for guests who do not like the idea of bathing in groups.
You can have your morning coffee in the lobby, completely free of charge. Why not spend your time gazing out the window with a coffee in your hand?
Tha okami-san took great care of us. We learned a lot from her; about the history of this hotel, recommended sightseeing spots around the town, and many things about Takayama.
We couldn't be happier being relaxed, full of great food, and the heartwarming atmosphere of the hotel. What makes Yamakyu special, is the great hospitality and its unique atmosphere resembling the "good old days of Japan".
We definitely wish to come back.
Reservations are available online. Consider visiting Yamakyu if you want to make your trip a special memory!