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Ryokan review at Shima onsen : Real Japanese Vacationing, Winter Ryokan Style

Komatsu setting in the room, Shima onsen Ryokan

Sponsored by Nakanojo Tourism Association

 

I’ve stayed in a few Ryokan’s in my time but never before have I tried to experience it in full Japanese style. This Ryokan not only encouraged that but also gave me the added bonus of a winter, countryside experience that was so relaxing I could barely bring myself to move. If this is the way Japanese people do countryside vacationing, I think I’ll do it more often.

 

The ryokan house in Shima onsen

 

Arrive at 3pm. Your sightseeing has finished for the day.

When I decide to go travelling, I usually get a burst of energy that makes me very ambitious to do stuff all day. I want to be outside, I want to travel everywhere and I want to do stuff, so it seems strange to me that the Japanese tradition is to arrive at your accommodation at 3pm and take a bath…

Local styled Ryokan building in Shima onsen

Kotatsu are my new favourite thing!

Needless to say however, I wasn’t mad at the fact I could just chill in my room for hours. It was getting really cold outside and I’d just taken my first experience of a Kotatsu and let me tell you, I can completely understand and appreciate this way of vacationing. For those of you that have never experienced the sheer blissful warmth of getting underneath what is essentially a small duvet over a table with built in underneath heaters, it’s like having someone hug your legs for hours. The heaters keep the squidgy layers underneath your table at the perfect temperature. You can sit at your table and do work or watch tv from you floor chair or, as is what happened to me, slump and melt out of the chair completely and end up as a puddly warm mess, lying on the floor at a strange angle with your legs still firmly underneath the kotatsu. I didn’t want to move, not even for the prospect of going to my own personal onsen downstairs (since I was the only person staying there at the time). However, in order to get the full Japanese experience, I knew I had to. So I managed to pull myself from under the Kotatsu and make my way down to the Onsen, completely wrapped in my long and, dare I say it, stylish Yukata.

Kotatsu in my room

Taking a bath in my personal Onsen

This Ryokan featured two baths, one female and one male, which switch daily to allow you to experience both. Though the bath was simple, it was comforting and complete with all the vitamins, minerals and famous healing properties that Nakanojo waters are known for. From the moment I walked through the door, I could smell it. There were even small cups near the water spout for you to take water to drink. I tried a small drop or two and it tasted fine, though I hate the taste of warm water. I can’t confess to feeling significantly better than before however. Only a more relaxed, big melted blob of a human.

Onsen bathing for female
As with all onsens, I entered with no clothes on and washed my body thoroughly before entering. Be sure to put your hair up so that neither it nor any towel you may be using, touch the water.

Public bath

6pm and it’s time for dinner and some personal room service

The moment I stepped back into my room, I was back under the kotatsu. The TV was on and I had once again resorted to that blob on the floor. Life was good but it was about to get better.

Dinner of the day at this Ryokan

When I first arrived at the Ryokan, the staff asked me what time I would like dinner and breakfast the next day and, with my schedule sorted, it was just about 6pm and time for dinner. A knock came at my door and I had to leave to open it, since I accidentally locked the door. The feast that awaited on the other side was easily enough to feed two people yet, with eyes bigger than my stomach, I gave it a good go.

Warm meal

White rice

Countryside Ryokans are famous for having the freshest foods and the biggest variety of side dishes you ever did see. There were around 10 separate bowls and plates on the tray they brought me, not including the literal bucket of rice I was given. I sat under my Kotatsu again and dug into the bounty. It was amazing and I definitely appreciate the privacy of eating in my own room with my TV. It was the height of laziness and reminded me of being a child back home, where my mother would cook for me. To be honest, with the way I was inhaling my food, I’m glad no one could see me.

Today's fish

Hotpot

7pm – Let’s go for a walk

It was probably a poor judgement call considering how dark the countryside is. I really hadn’t expected the area to be quite as creepy as it was but none-the-less, the fresh air felt good and invigorated me after that massive dinner. I would definitely recommend going for a light walk after dinner, no matter how much you really don’t want to move from your Kotatsu. It’s quite difficult to find the will to move after just relaxing since you arrived at 3pm, but it’s part of the Japanese traditional countryside stay experience, so definitely walk around the grounds at least.

At the lobby

Sleep

When I got back from my walk, my dinner had been cleared away and my futon was on the ground, all set up and ready for me. I’m really not used to this kind of service where everything is done of you but it’s pretty handy, particularly if you don’t know how to set up your futon. If you need more layers, simply go to the cupboard and take out another duvet. Build up as many layers as you wish for more or less softness and warmth.

Futon setting

Breakfast Time!

I was treated to a traditional, countryside Japanese breakfast, complete with many side dishes. Gooey rice and miso soup in the morning is just the biggest winner for me now. I can’t believe it’s actually healthy and the whole thing kept me full until well past lunch time.

Breakfast meal

Let’s get the details

You can enjoy this secluded, countryside Ryokan, complete with onsens, breakfast, dinner and all the rice you can stomach. As an added bonus, Gomuso no Yu, a free public onsen known to cure pretty much all your diseases or illnesses, is just next door. The Ryokan is also surrounded by a beautiful lake which delivers the soft echoing background music of flowing water straight into your room. It is the height of beauty and relaxation. So get under the kotatsu and melt your troubles away in one of the most beautiful places in Japan.

 

 

Ryokan has the little souvenir shop!

 

Reservation: here

 

    
Name Chuseikan Ryokan
Category Ryokan
Address Japan, 〒377-0601 Gunma-ken, Agatsuma-gun, Nakanojō-machi, 大字四万乙4374
Access
Japan, 〒377-0601 Gunma-ken, Agatsuma-gun, Nakanojō-machi, 大字四万乙4374
Opening Hours 7am - 12am (on business days), Check in: from 3pm; Check out: by 10am
Price Range ¥10,950 per night (Dinner and Breakfast incl.)
Payment options Cash