Sponsored by Kumamoto Prefecture Tourism Federation
Amakusa Shimoda Onsen Boyokaku is the height of exquisite fine dining, relaxation and pampering along the East Shina sea in Amakusa, Kumamoto. The Ise-ebi shrimp, the warmth of the onsen, the famous Japanese hospitality and of course, the sunset views is renowned for provide an experience so special you could consider it a honeymoon spot!
The Room and The Experience
Quite simply, this was the largest and most luxurious Ryokan I have ever stayed in, with a view to die for! The luxurious, fabric trimmed tatami, coupled with the usual low coffee table and floor seats created an atmosphere typical of a Japanese ryokan. The highlight for me was the way the room was segmented into two, with the bathroom door completely separated from the sleeping and relaxing area. Naturally, the sunset views from the room are renowned and exceptionally romantic. Take a seat with your loved one by the large window that showcases your sea side view and relax with the sun as it sinks itself into the sea.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by an adorable Oba-Chan (elderly Japanese lady) dressed in a Japanese Kimono and providing the kind of ambience you would get from a caring grandmother. Without a doubt, we were in good hands. She led us down the winding corridors, past expensive looking Japanese antiques and unique paintings of Japanese landscapes to our room. She then went to get some tea and snacks for that typical Japanese experience.
She returned, poured us some green tea, with plenty to spare and provided us with a Japanese snack placed on some fine Japanese setting. She chatted for a while, asked us whether we would be taking a bath and what time we would like dinner and breakfast the following day. She then left and we received a call a few moments later, telling us our dinner we could go up to the restaurant area for dinner!
While in the restaurant, the staff entered our room, moved the small table and prepared our beds for us in time for our return from dinner. This is the true Japanese ryokan experience!
Fine Dining: The Ise-ebi Shrimp Dinner
When it comes to dining, Amakusa Shimoda Onsen know exactly what they’re doing. The dinner alone is an experience worth going for alone.
We approached a brightly sit, modern restaurant on one of the top floors of the hotel, with an incredible view of the sea and elegant twinkling fixtures. Once again, the hotel was filled with elderly Japanese ladies wearing the traditional Japanese Kimono and the table was already laden with an impressive display of the area’s famous cuisine, including Ise-Ebi (Japanese lobster).
As we ate, we were lavished with more and more small bowls, including udon, vegetables and my favourite, shellfish filled with garlic and mushrooms. The small helpings of vegetables, salads, fresh fish, rice, tofu, shabu shabu and so on, takes your taste-buds on the journey of a lifetime. If you are a food adventurer, this one is for you!
Fine Dining: Breakfast Buffet
There are perhaps no two words that I love to hear more than Breakfast Buffet. This is an all you can eat extravaganza comprised of a mixture of western food, from your basic croissants, toast, yogurt and cereal, to your Japanese staples of rice, miso, fish and meats. Not only that, but the drinks selection is also divine. Complete with juices, teas, coffee and milk, you won’t need to eat until dinner.
Taking a dip in the Onsen is the absolute icing on the top of any vacation cake. I would highly recommend changing into the complimentary Yukata in your room and slipping into one of the many baths this place has to offer right after your tea and snacks upon arrival. This particular Ryokan offers both indoor and outdoor baths as well as towels, body soap, shampoo, conditioner and moisturizers. As an added bonus, they also have Onsen water available to drink outside of the Onsen entrance, which I would highly recommend trying! The Ryokan also has an indoor swimming pool which, if I had more time, I would definitely have jumped in.
I cannot review this Ryokan without talking about the incredible views they have on offer. The sunset, which can be viewed from the windows and seating areas around the halls of the accommodation, as well as from the restaurant, if you’re lucky enough to score a seat by the window, is the natural highlight. Check out the board in the lobby for the sunset and sunrise times of the day. Alternatively, there is a beautiful spot overlooking the sea just 1km away from the Ryokan. Take a walk down there for a romantic and atmospheric view of the sunset before dinner.
Naturally, the best and most efficient way to get around Kumamoto is by car. Fortunately, this hotel not only has a place to park your car, but they will also park it for you. When you check out at the end of your stay, the hotel staff will get your car ready at the front and have the engine running by the time you finish your check out. The staff at Amakusa Shimoda Onsen seem to operate like a well-oiled machine, providing the highest level of excellence and service every time. I was exceedingly impressed.[cft format=0]