>Kokuya Ryokan, Shibu Onsen

>Okay, I just have to blog this. I am SO excited right now. If you can see me, I am simultaneously hopping in my seat and grinning from ear to ear. If I were alone, I would be screaming in glee!!

Our Japan itinerary is slowly but surely taking shape. I have confirmed accommodation in various places already. But nothing has gotten me more excited than my recent (read less than 10min ago!) confirmation from the gorgeous Kokuya Ryokanin Shibu Onsen!!

Kokuya is lovely – it comes with several in-house baths with different types of waters and in various configurations – outdoor rotemburo and indoor baths, to satisfy the hardcore soaker in me. Lovely spacious rooms, 9-course kaiseki dinners arranged to miniature perfection and its right in the heart of Shibu Onsen‘s quaint onsen streets. I am going to be wrinkled as a prune by the time I get through all of Shibu Onsen’s nine public sentos AND Kokuya’s 6 to 8 baths, but I can’t wait!

Initially, looking at Kokuya’s rates (18,000yen per person per night in a standard room), I felt that this was beyond our budget.

But this afternoon, I went through Zeno’s guide again, wistfully looking at the pictures and for the heck of it, decided to just write to him to ask if he could recommend a similar property at slightly lower prices.

To my surprise, he was very quick and wrote back immediately. We bounced emails like a hard and fast game of ping-pong and bingo, he’d gotten us great rates at Kokuya. This is great news and far better than I expected. Needless to say, I confirmed this immediately.

If you are thinking of a night or two in Shibu Onsen in one of the best ryokans in the area, check with Zeno at http://www.yudanaka-shibuonsen.com/luxury_ryokan

I am looking forward to this, so much so I can just burst with excitement!

Already, I am seeing us in our yukatas and getas, clacking through the narrow lantern-lit streets of Shibu, going from bathhouse to bathhouse, stamping on our tegatas (souvenir towels – each bathhouse has a stamp so after each bath, we stamp the tegata, with the aim to collect all nine stamps!) and then settling in with a fantastic kaiseki dinner, then snuggle in our deep comfy futons for a night. Can’t wait!

I promised myself that this trip, I want a full ryokan experience and I am so glad to be getting this in Shibu Onsen. It will be our one ryokan splurge for the trip and I’m sure the experience will be worth it.

To keep the blog up to date, other accommodation I’ve booked todate include a wide range – a highly-rated hostel in Kyoto, our usual Family Fifty accomodation in Maihama near Tokyo Disney, a three-bedroom HOUSE – yes, you read that right – on the beautiful island of Miyajima, and a night stay in a shukubo (temple lodging) on the very spiritual Koyasan. So it looks like a good mix – we have nights in cheaper lodging and nights where we luxuriate a little. I think in travel, its good to have this mix so that we don’t end up with travel fatigue brought on by too much stinging! It will be interesting to stay in a hostel with my mom, sister and family in one big room (all bunk beds!).

I am also looking forward to our shukubo on Koyasan – where Nov night time temps are likely to go as low as 0 deg celcius! Our shukubo is at the Shojoshoin temple complex, which is near to Okunoin – so very handy for a stroll at dusk to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum.

This is all shaping up very nicely and I look forward to posting pictures and sharing the trip details in this blog!

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