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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Japan Day 4 Part 2: Hiiragiya Bekkan

Continuing from where we left off in the previous post, we headed back to Kawaramachi after our day trip to Arashiyama. On the way back to the Best Western Hotel to collect our luggage, we stopped by at Takashimaya to browse the "depachika", which refers to the basement of the department stores. In Japan, the basement floors of department stores is the place where foodstuff are sold, which is similar to our supermarkets here but with a much larger variety of items sold.

Really love just browsing here as there is just such a large variety of food on display, including salads, sashimi, sushi, bento sets, yakitori, desserts and lots more. Just thinking of it is making me drool. As we'll be having a traditional kaiseki dinner at the ryokan, we only got one octopus salad to try.

After collecting our luggage, we made our way to Hiiragiya Bekkan (http://www.hiiragiya.co.jp/bekkan/en/), which is also within walking distance. Do note that Hiiragiya Bekkan is not the same as Hiiragiya Ryokan, as the Hiiragiya Ryokan is older and the cost per room is much higher.




I had made the reservation for our room through their website and subsequent e-mail communications. It was quite convenient as they were able to communicate in English. Also, no deposit was required upon making the reservation and payment is only made upon our stay here. We booked a standard room with garden view, which cost us a total of 20,000 yen per person per night. This came up to a total of 42,000 yen for the nights stay, which includes a 5% tax. This total paid includes the kaiseki dinner as well as breakfast in the morning, which can also be excluded and deducted from the cost of the room if you do not wish to dine here.

Based on the description provided in the website above, this standard room contains 8 tatami mats and is approximately 27 square meters in size. This was definitely the largest room we stayed in over our entire trip in Japan, and with all the facilities necessary. There is an adjoining dressing room and toilet to the room though no bath for individual rooms. The ryokan has 4 public baths which can be booked for individual use during your stay.

My mum and I chose to have our baths separately and were ushered to the baths by the staff, where we were left to our own devices. The bath area was large and was separated into two separate rooms, one dry area where we could place our towels and such, and adjoining this was the baths where we sat on little stools to clean ourselves before getting into the huge heated bath. Really relaxed in the bath as the heat helped to relieve our aches from our walking over the last few days.


Once we got back to the room after our bath, we were each given a cup of umeboshi tea. This is a kind of plum tea and has a slight saltish taste to it, quite unlike any tea we have ever tasted before. Mum and I liked it so much, we went looking for it at one of the department stores in Osaka to bring home. We also opened up our box of octopus salad to try before dinner was served.

After the plum tea, it wasn't long before we were served with our first dish of the night...and yes, it was the first of the many dishes that we had. Including the dessert, there were a total of 10 dishes served to us over the night (had to go back and count it based on the pictures I took =p) It's similar to a fine dining concept, I suppose, as each dish was served to us one at a time, with the staff explaining to us each dish presented.

Don't remember much details of the types of ingredients that went into each dish, but it tasted wonderful. A lot of fresh vegetables and fish was used in the dishes and we loved that the intricacy of each dish, with all the different flavours. As I can't describe much now without drooling all over the computer, just have a look at the photos below for all the dishes in our kaiseki dinner.



Although each individual dish was small, we were quite full after finishing the whole course and rested for a while watching the television in our room. Not long after, the staff came in to move the table aside and set up the futons for us to sleep on. Within a few short minutes, the room was cleared and two comfortable futons were set up in the middle of the room.

The staff had also confirmed with us the time at which our breakfast would be served so that it could be served to us in our room.


As we were planning to head to the Nishiki Market early the next morning, we decided to turn in early. Besides that, the comfy looking futons were becoming too much to resist ^.^ Next up will be our final day in Kyoto before we head back to Osaka.

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