Satoyama Jujo

One of the must do’s on our list for Japan was to visit an Onsen (Japanese hot spring) and also a Ryoken (traditional Japanese Inn). The fact that we managed both at a lux Design Hotel was an added bonus.

I’m not sure how I found Satoyama Jujo, I think it was via the app Japan Travel. Also, I’m not lying when I tell you that we re-arranged a chunk of our original travel and several pre-booked rooms to stay here for one night.

It’s not a huge place, thirteen guest rooms, two Onsen (one each for the ladies and gentlemen), a restaurant, dining room, two lounges, a shop, and a handful of private dining rooms for those who want extra solitude. The style of the place is a mix of old traditional with modern touches of furniture and decoration. It’s minimal, which you’d expect from Japan, but not cool and clinical. As we visited in Fall, there was a fire burning in the lobby and the autumn colors of the trees in the surrounding forest added a burnished glow to the rooms.

Our intro to the place was slick, we were met at the railway station by a smart young man in a car and driven the 5 minutes to the hotel. We then received a choice of drink and some sake cheesecake (which tasted of sake and not of cheese) and walked through the agenda for our stay. We confirmed the ten course dinner menu at 7.45pm, we walked them through our food requirements and allergies and we checked the box for breakfast and check out for the next day.

We were then escorted to the room and further presented with our free mini bar, private bath on the deck, free tea, coffee, snacks, and booze in the lounges, and organic cotton jammies that we were encouraged to wear throughout the whole stay. We can even wear jammies to a fancy dinner. This is my kind of place.

The dinner that evening was amazing. The theme throughout was Fall, from the decoration of the table and presentation of the food. There was a heavy play on vegetables with small additions of fish and meat. The flavors subtle but delicious and each plate plenty full. I think it’s fair to say we could hardly move after it and we both fell asleep quickly and deeply.

I’d set the alarm for 6.20am so we could catch the sunrise from the Onsen. Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy (for the first time this whole trip) but the view across the forest and nearby mountains was still amazing. The Onsen were split to male and female (no mixed) but we had the place to ourselves albeit on either side of a wall, listening and watching the rain hit the water, mist rising in the dawn light (sounds magical doesn’t it?).

The breakfast was as elaborate as the dinner, no omelette or juice bar here. Instead were small tastings of tofu, pickle, rice, mackerel, egg, and miso soup. Delicate and delicious.

The balance of our stay was spent lounging in jammies, reading, and drinking tea before we got changed into real clothes, checked out and made our way by train back to civilization.