September 24, 2017
Lonely Planet recommends Fujioto as a good introduction to the ryokan experience, because they speak good English and make the experience quite accessible for foreign tourists. I would agree. Although, the experience is still very Japanese, their English is very good and all the other guests on the day of our visit were Western. They even change the bathing policy for Westerners and have you use the two large shared bathrooms by family, instead of by gender. This makes the process a bit slower but we were still able to wash up and have a quick soak before dinner.
Our room was smaller than normal, in fact they gave us a 1000 yen discount per person. After filling out the registration card we were given a tour of the hotel. The two bathing rooms are located on first floor but there are toilets on both floors.
The large dining room where they serve both dinner and breakfast is just across from a pretty garden. There is also a smaller garden out front.
The room is basic Japanese – tatami mats, a small shelving unit for the tiny TV and water boiler, clothes hanger in the corner and small table with two chairs, not much else.
We were shown our yukata, the Japanese dressing gown and encouraged to wear it to the bath and to dinner, which everyone did. It was funny to see a bunch of westerners all wearing jammies at a gourmet dinner.
The kaiseki dinner served promptly at 6PM is an 8 course affair, all exquisitely prepared and presented.
The appetizers were already laid out upon our arrival. The gracious host explains the items in good English. The spread included a local grilled fish and baby wasps, about the size and consistency of brown rice, flavored in a somewhat sweet sauce.
Next was very fresh sashimi, the menu said salmon but the hostess explained that this was a farmed fish, a cross between a rainbow and brown trout.
Small dishes included local pickles, seasonal vegetables, tempura and a light chicken broth.
The main event, cooked at your table, was a Hoba-miso Shinshu beef steak. Lovely, the beef flavorful and very tender.
To end the meal they serve a local favorite, gohei-mochi – a sticky rice cake on a stick with a somewhat sweet nutty sauce.
And for dessert a green tea sponge cake served with ice cream and very fresh apple slices. Everything was made with high quality flavorful ingredients and was one of the best kaiseki experiences of our trip.
Breakfast was also well executed and beautifully presented. The spread is waiting for you at your choice of breakfast times: 7:30 or 8:00. Grilled local salmon /trout, sweet Japanese egg, pickled vegies, two kinds of mushroom, etc. and green tea. We didn’t ask about coffee as we brought our own instant to drink in the room, which I highly suggest doing if you are a coffee drinker.