"Yunode Ryokan" was the best ryokan (Japanese style inn) I ever experienced. I was lucky that I could find it on the internet. I wanted to stay overnight in a quiet spa town near Kanazawa city, then I chose Yuwaku Onsen (Onsen means hot spring) and searched for a good Japanese style accommodation on the web.
The official web site of Yunode Ryokan says that it offers calm and comfortable guest rooms but they are not over-decorated and that it prepares meals extracting best tastes from the ingredients in season. Its photos depict spacious and relaxing bathrooms with greenery for background. The price for overnight is 15,800 yen per person (at least two persons for reservation) including dinner and breakfast.
Though it is not easy to evaluate the quality of restaurants and hotels just from their web sites or other information on the web, I was at least half convinced by the quality of Yunode Ryokan from its web site and made a reservation through its reservation page. I then discovered that Yunode Ryokan was in reality by far better than my expectation and the best ryokan I ever experienced in Japan.
Yuwaku Onsen is about a half hour's drive from Kanazawa. There is a junction at the entrance of the spa town and Yunode Ryokan is the first house in the street going left. It is a wooden two-story house in pure Japanese style. We were welcome by a waitress in front of the entrance.
Floors were covered with tatami mats and we should walk bare foot in the ryokan. As Japanese I am fond of feeling the surface of tatami with my naked sole. We were guided to our room which was elegantly decorated, spacious and comfortable. The room faces the garden with its two sides and we could hear murmuring of a small stream.
As soon as we drank a cup of tea with welcome sweets, we headed for onsen. As usual in Japanese onsen ryokan, Yunode Ryokan had two large public baths in addition to private baths installed in the individual guestroom: a larger one with an outdoor bathtub and a smaller one decorated with natural rocks. Yunode Ryokan has only ten guestrooms and when I visited there only four rooms were occupied because it was just after Golden Week. Therefore, we could enjoy onsen as if it were reserved alone for us. I was especially fond of the "umebachi" shaped bath. Umebachi is an old Japanese design depicting the plum blossom with five petals. In its center a pistil shaped stone is placed from where hot spring water was flowing out.
After bathing we went out to stroll in Yuwaku town and surroundings. Please check another article to see how Yuwaku looked like.
The highlight of the stay was dinner. We were served with a spring "kaiseki" course. "Kaiseki" is a formal and gorgeous style of meal. The characteristic of the spring course was the use of various vegetables in spring. Unfortunately I can show you only pictures of meals, though you have to taste them yourself. I was strongly surprised at the superb taste of the dishes. Without exception they were prepared with utmost care and sense of taste. So far as I could recall, I had never had better dishes even in the best Japanese restaurants in Tokyo – though I cannot say that the kitchen of Yunode is the best in Japan, as I have few experiences in Kyoto where there should be some of the best restaurants in Japan. Our waitress told me that the owner of the Ryokan himself was the chef and I thought that he really wanted to entertain his guests with his cooking and this could differentiate his dishes from those of ordinary employed cooks.
Apart from the food itself I should also praise the service. The service of the staff was very friendly and appropriate including room service. As usual a specific attending waitress was assigned to our room and she took care of us in every respect such as servicing food and beverage, making bed and cleaning room. Food was served in our room and each dish must be transported from the kitchen by our waitress. Her service was very smooth and all dishes were timely served so that we could enjoy their fresh taste to the fullest extent possible.
After dinner we enjoyed hot spring and slept well while hearing chorus of frogs from the nearby stream.
Ryokan guests could use the bathes till 12:00pm and from 5:00am. It is one of the supreme pleasures for me to enjoy hot bath from the early morning.
After the morning bathing breakfast was waiting for us in a large banquet hall. The breakfast was rich as well and it used many kinds of local ingredients such as wild plants picked up in the nearby mountains. As Yuwaku is a mountain valley far from sea the breakfast did not include fresh seafood, which I found was a wise selection.
After having coffee we checked out the ryokan and left for Noto Peninsula. The landlady and a waitress saw us off in front of the entrance saying "Please visit us again".
Yunode Ryokan is run by a family and has all the merits of familly business. We could feel everywhere attentive hospitality of the owner couple and were very happy. I will surely visit this ryokan again when I have a chance and also recommend it to my friends as one of the best ryokan we can find in Kanazawa.