By Hannah Warren
One of the greatest experiences one can have in Japan, in my humble opinion, is to stay in a good ryokan. These traditional Japanese hotels are designed to relax and pamper you, and Matsumoto Ryokan is no different.
Matsumoto doesn’t immediately stand out from the many ryokan in Ginzan Onsen, its simple, dark exterior blending perfectly with the style of the street, but I found it with no trouble and was delighted with my experience from start to finish.
The staff is friendly and welcoming, and it felt like they made a special effort with their guests.
I left my bags there in the morning, and spent the day exploring the gorgeous Ginzan Onsen and nearby silver mine with the help of the wonderful Naoko from the information center.
When I returned in the early evening, I checked in and they escorted me to my room, which was simple and lovely. It had a tiny balcony away from the main street, so the view was nothing to write home about, but it was very quiet and peaceful.
Of course, staying in a ryokan, I immediately put on my yukata and went straight to the onsen which, again, was simple and lovely. They supply the shampoo and rinse, body wash and face wash and, of course, the hot, clear water. There is also a tap for cold water in case Mother Nature gets too enthusiastic.
After my onsen it was time for dinner, which was announced in my room with a little knock on the door and it took three trips from outside to bring in the tiny table and massive amount of food. It was a hearty meal, without compromising any of the elegance that one expects from Japanese food, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t get through all of it.
A quick phone call and it was all whisked away again, and my futon was laid out in its place.
When it got dark, I put one of the light jackets on over my yukata, borrowed some geta, and went for a night stroll through the dark, quiet streets. It felt almost otherworldly, wandering the streets, lit by the yellow glow of the gaslights, in a yukata and wooden shoes.
After a restful night’s sleep, I was woken by a phone call announcing that my breakfast was ready for me on the second floor.
Breakfast was another feast, laid out on the tatami of a large, sunny room with room numbers as markers by each little table setting. Every dish was delicious, and I do very much enjoy having meals in my dressing gown.
I went for one last bath, to really make the most of the experience, and had one last cup of tea in my room before checking out.
Matsumoto Ryokan was a great place to stay in the lovely Ginzan Onsen, where I will definitely return one day.
Hannah lives in Sydney and spends most of her time dreaming of being somewhere else. She loves karaoke, hates making plans in advance, and will probably never be able to read a map.