After the first few busy days in Tokyo adjusting to the wild 14 hour time change a drive to the remote city of Hakone was a perfect one night trip for some relaxation.
On the way to our Ryokan, we stopped for lunch at Gora Brewery. Gora Brewery is Nobu’s brewery and restaurant near his Hakone vacation home. Unlike the other Nobu’s across the globe, this one was small and casual, like the nice restaurant in any little neighborhood. We were excited to see Gora Brewery had all the Nobu favorites like crispy rice + spicy tuna and the yellowtail jalapeño.
Yama No Chaya
Yama No Chaya was the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that we stayed in for one night. Situated on a mountain and over a waterfall escaping bridge is the hotel. When we entered we were immediately greeted by staff who asked us to take off our shoes at the entrance. We did not get our shoes back until our departure the next day. The rooms are minimalistic with a bathroom, seating area, and a small table with floor mats. At night, the table is put away and the staff pull out a very comfortable Japanese futon mattress on the floor to sleep on as well as buckwheat pillows. Additionally, our rooms had a porch with a private onsen. There were a few large public onsens split by gender that we visited around the hotel. Onsens are Japanese hot springs. The onsens were very relaxing.
Ryokan eating is unlike anything I’ve ever had before. We ate all together sitting on floor mats in one of our rooms. Ryokans serve Kaiseki style meals which are multi-course meals with tons of mini dishes. Each dish is so intricate and placed so nicely. I can’t imagine what the kitchen must go through making hundreds of small dishes. We had this for dinner and a lighter version for breakfast. So yummy!
Hakone was full of culture and showed a more traditional side of Japan. This was like nothing I had experienced before.