Just under an hour from the centre of Hiroshima, half way up a hill, in a quiet residential street there is the most gorgeous ‘ryokan’ you can possibly imagine.
A ryokan is a is a type of traditional Japanese inn that typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata, which are lightweight cotton kimono type garments. This the Wikipedia definition… and it feels a little dry. In the case of the ‘Sekitei‘ it just doesn’t do justice to the magic of the place. In fact it is probably my favourite place of all the ones we stayed in during our trip.
My photos have downloaded in mysterious ways so… well come with me on a tour…
When you arrive in a ryokan you take your shoes off and get given slippers to wear around the place (… they never fit big feet and No 1’s size 12 canoes looked absolutely hilarious in the denty little things, even the staff laughed every time he shuffled by).
We were then served a welcome tea, of green tea and salted ice cream in a waffle sandwich type thing. Delicious unless you don’t like green tea like 4 out of five of us. I do, and that one was particularly sweet.
our room/suite was simply divine. Seriously, I didn’t want to leave at all… it had a mixture of Japanese style furniture with some cracking mid-century pieces, a killer view, a quiet, zen atmosphere…
Not to mention the most amazing bath… that there is an onsen bath, a special tap would fill it with naturally hot spring water… bliss. There was also a separate shower room, because you must wash before relaxing in an onsen.
the beds were low… but super comfortable although I haven’t mastered a graceful getting up/lying down manouvre. Imagine an ostrich trying a futon and you get the idea.
… the decor, the garden… and then when you think it can’t get any better… the baths! Naturally spring water coming out of the ground at a perfect 40C, rich in minerals and really good for your skin.
They are public, male and female separate, although as I said you can use the wooden tub in the room if you prefer. I went in and ‘learnt’ from surreptitiously looking around… So, if you take the door at the end of the corridor, right in front of you…
You take off your house slippers and enter this cozy room, take off all your clothes and put them in one of the basket, grab a flannel, and a small towel and move on to here:
a beautiful wash room all in wood (it smelt so great) and wash yourself; I mean PROPERLY! I have never seen adults taking so much care in washing themselves over an over again… quite disconcerting at times, but nobody looks at anybody else at all and it’s strangely private even if totally public. When you’re sparkling clean you cover yourself modestly with a small towel in front of you and then you have a choice of an indoor onsen, or an outdoor one…
Aaaand relax… Absolutely bliss.
After you don your ‘yukata’ and chill in your room. The boys would probably kill me for showing you this but here’s them waiting for dinner in their Japanese garbs:
Dinner. Dinners are not just dinner… the chefs take as much pride in their presentation as they do in the food itself and whilst not everything was ‘agreeable’ to our Western palate, the look of the food was mind blowing.
I also opted for the ‘Japanese breakfast’ in the morning. Very nice indeed.
I think I need to buy a rice cooker. I miss rice.