The other day, after I saw the dance performance of Awara Geisha I stayed in Awara Hotsprings. Awara Hotsprings are located about 40 minutes drive from Fukui city where I live, so I didn't really have to stay for the night. But I've lived in Fukui only for 3 years and still feel a bit like a tourist, so when I visit hotsprings, no matter how close or distant, I want to stay overnight! On a cold winter day with light snow falling from a dark sky, watching an enchanting dance of Geisha, dipping in a relaxing Onsen, licking my lips over great food while enjoying good Sake....is there a better way to spend a cold winter day in Fukui than this? Yeah, I know I sound like an old man but who cares!
Here arises the next issue; where to stay. I stayed at Hotel Yagi this time. But I'd stayed there once before and in fact I wanted to try out some other place. However, no matter how I tried I couldn't find a good hotel at a reasonable price. Come to think of it, now is the high season for Echizen Crab. No wonder every hotel was fully booked. There were some available rooms, but they cost 50,000 yen per night per person!? No kidding! If this was an once-in-a-life-time trip I would've paid that much......or not?! but it's hideously expensive for just a casual stay in my neighborhood! Then I found an available room in "Hotel Yagi". Actually, it came as a surprise because this hotel is one of the most well-known, traditional, exclusive hotels in Awara Hotsprings. Every Fukuian knows the place and its reputation. "Exclusive" has a lot of meanings, but I found out that "Exclusive" doesn't always mean "Expensive"....well well, this is definitely my kind of place...No, everyone's kind of place!
I chose a one-night/2 meals (Crab Shabu Shabu) course. The meals were served not in my room but in a big dining hall (you can have it in your room at extra cost). Including the extra Sake I ordered, it cost us 25,000 yen per person in total. For your information, the crab I ate was NOT the famous "Echizen Crab". If it were Echizen Crab the price would've been 50,000 yen per person. But to me, who is not particularly fond of crabs, paying that much for crabs is out of the question.
Most of all, this is the traditional, exclusive classy Japanese hotel. The interior is classy, the lobby is spacious and comfortable, the onsen is relaxing and well-cared for, the hotel staffs' service is impeccable. Sometimes, when you go to a so-called "Exclusive" hotel, people there can be insolent, make you feel nervous OR indignant and you can't at all relax. But this place is not like that. The staff are trained to their bones to provide unostentatious, considerate service without pushing their traditions. This is the "Omotenashi"(hospitality) cultivated and polished by the more than 100 years' history and tradition of the hotel.
There is one more thing I'd like to mention here. The check-out time of the hotel. Usually, the check-out time of these Japanese Ryokan-style hotels is at 10:00 a.m., and the staff burst into your room early in the morning to put your futon away into thea closet. To normal people it's like a a dawn attack, to me it's a night raid. There wouldn't be a problem to those who don't mind waking up early even on holidays, but to me, someone who enjoys a lazy sleep-in on a holiday morning this is nothing but nuisance. It's so sad to pay a lot of money to relax in a hotel, and end up being attacked early in a morning by a bunch of mobs with brooms. However, the check-out time of this hotel is 11:00 a.m., which is quite unusual. Adding to that, the staff won't bother you until you check out. This IS my kind of place! In this hotel I can enjoy my lazy sleep, wake up ever-so slowly, have a late breakfast, AND take a luxurious bath in the onsen, then spruce up slowly, and check out elegantly. If you are good at waking up early, you can dip into the onsen just after waking up, have breakfast, and enjoy the onsen once again before leaving the hotel, which would be super difficult in other hotels because of the early checkout time, but here you can do it easily!
The prestige and sophisticated service of a traditional Ryokan, delicious food, spacious and classy rooms and lobby, late check-out time at a reasonable price.... all these things can be found at "Hotel Yagi" in Fukui. Should you ever visit Fukui or even if you live in Fukui, this is a great place to stay for you!