This is a review of our stay at Mikiya Ryokan.
My husband and I visited Kyoto in January during the freezing cold winter, and decided to also visit Kinosaki Onsen afterwards. Then we decided to stay at this ryokan, which we had wanted to stay at for a long time. To get straight to the point, the elegance of the wooden building, a tangible cultural property with historical value, and the Japanese garden were very quaint, and there was a special space unique to this ryokan that made us want to spend all day in our room looking at the Japanese garden. It was a very beautiful ryokan that had been renovated by top craftsmen, architects, and interior designers, while preserving the ambience of the building that has been created over the years.
Around noon, we boarded an express train from Kyoto Station and arrived at Kinosaki Onsen Station before 3:00 pm. Upon exiting the station, the street in front of the station was lined with local stores, including souvenir shops, restaurants, and seafood stores. Then straight ahead, we saw a row of willow trees along the river and a stone bridge. After crossing the bridge, we turned left and continued straight ahead until we saw the ryokan where we would be staying. We walked from the station because we didn’t have much luggage, but it took more than 15 minutes on foot. If you have a lot of luggage, you may want to request a free shuttle service in advance. It started snowing on the way to the ryokan, so it seemed further away than expected.
Entering through the entrance with a sign reading “三木屋,” we found a stunning wooden building and were warmly greeted by the staff as we entered. After taking off our shoes at the magnificent stone-paved entrance, we were led to a spacious lobby with a view of a beautiful Japanese garden. After completing check-in procedures here, the staff prepared green tea and red bean paste sweets for us. As we gazed at the spectacular Japanese garden, covered with a light dusting of powdery snow that had been falling for some time, we were struck by the dignity of a luxury ryokan. The garden, with its pond and garden paths fed by Mt. Otani in the background, was a true symbol of the ryokan.
Although the historic wooden building is old, the interior of the building has been beautifully renovated with sophisticated modern interior design, furnishings, and updated equipment, all in perfect harmony. There was a library area in one corner of the lobby and a store to the right of the entrance, selling locally made ceramics, soy sauce, sake, and other items. Next to the shop was a display of beautifully printed yukatas, which could be borrowed free of charge.
After a while, a staff member escorted us to our room. This ryokan has a main building, a west wing, a south wing, and an annex. This time we stayed in a newly renovated special room #22 on the first floor of the west wing. Pulling the lattice door at the entrance of the spacious room, we entered to find a bedroom with twin beds and a writing desk on the left, and a beautiful Japanese Shoin-style room on the right. A magnificent alcove called tokonoma with hanging scrolls was decorated with pink camellia flowers. There was a porch called engawa with tatami mats on the window side of the bedroom and Japanese-style room, and comfortable rattan chairs, a table, and a rocking chair. The simple yet sophisticated design of the furniture was very comfortable and easy to use. The window on the porch overlooked the Japanese garden with magnificent red pine trees. The snow had already stopped by this time. As we listened carefully, we could hear the sound of wooden clogs called geta of tourists in yukatas passing by on the street in front of the ryokan. They were probably on their way to visit public onsen bathhouses called soto-yu. Kinosaki Onsen is dotted with seven public onsen bathhouses, and there is a culture of tourists going to the public onsen bathhouses in addition to the indoor onsen baths at the ryokan. If you stay overnight in Kinosaki Onsen Town, you can use all the public onsen bathhouses free of charge.
We, too, changed into the yukatas and haoris we had chosen when we checked in, and decided to go out for an onsen-hopping. When we went outside, the snow that had fallen earlier had already begun to melt. The entire town of Kinosaki Onsen was as atmospheric as the setting of a novel or movie, and just strolling around was like stepping back in time.
We first headed to “Mandara-yu“, the nearest public onsen bathhouse to the ryokan. It is about a three-minute walk from the ryokan. The exterior has an impressive emerald green roof, and although it is relatively small among the seven public onsen bathhouses, the outdoor baths have tub baths made of cypress, which allows visitors to bathe while enjoying the view of the mountains. The experience of bathing in the outdoor baths while looking at the rugged mountain surface is a unique attraction of “Mandara-yu”. Since it is popular, it is recommended to check the crowds before visiting. The next stop was “Gosho no Yu“. This large public onsen bathhouse was built in the image of the Kyoto Imperial Palace in Kyoto. It has a powerful waterfall running through it, and the ambience is full of wild charm. At night, the mood was magical.
After this, it was time to head to a casual restaurant called Gubigabu, which serves local beer, for dinner, as we were getting hungry. It is located about a three-minute walk from Gosho no Yu. We sat at counter seats in the restaurant and enjoyed local beer, Margherita pizza, Tajima beef steak, and homemade pudding while gazing at the willow trees along the picturesque riverside. By the time we left the restaurant, it was snowing again. The winter scenery created by the entire town of Kinosaki Onsen was a true work of art.
Returning to the ryokan, we decided to enjoy free coffee in the lobby while admiring the illuminated Japanese garden. The snow that had been falling earlier had gradually become heavier, and before we knew it, the whole area had quickly turned into a silver world. From the warmth of the lobby, we almost lost track of time as we watched the ever-changing snowy landscape emerge from the darkness.
The next morning, we woke up a little after 7:00 a.m. and looked out the window of our room to see the Japanese garden covered in white from the heavy snow that had continued to fall throughout the night. The contrast between the bright blue sky and the white snow was beautiful, and the reflection of the morning sun on the surface of the snow shone brightly. After a while, a family of sparrows flew in, jumping happily on the pure white snow.
When we went out the entrance to take an early morning walk in the Onsen district, it was very cold outside, a northerly wind was blowing, and the sidewalks were covered with snow, making it difficult to walk, therefore before breakfast, we decided to enjoy the communal hot spring baths at the ryokan. The communal onsen baths were located near the room No. 22, where we stayed. Also, there were two wonderful private family onsens available free of charge. You can lock up these private family baths at your leisure when they are available and use them completely privately at any time. We used them before checking out as well.
We then headed to the breakfast dining area in the main building. The staff showed us to a private dining room. The menu consisted only of Japanese food. The dishes were standard breakfast dishes such as yudofu (boiled tofu), soaked spinach and shimeji mushrooms, cooked fried ganmono, dried flatfish, rolled egg, salad with sansho dressing, and miso soup with clams, but each dish was carefully prepared. The dishes were served with seafood, which is typical of ryokans located by the seaside.
Kinosaki Onsen is a very enjoyable hot spring resort town to walk around, and strolling through the ryokan’s interior was also a very pleasant experience. The traditional crafts and historical feeling of Kinosaki Onsen were still present throughout the ryokan. Next time we would like to visit during the cherry blossom season.
Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda
Is the location easy to access?
Please take a direct express train or highway bus from Osaka Station or Kyoto Station to Kinosaki Onsen Station. The travel time is 2.5 hours for express train and 3.5 hours for highway bus.
From Kinosaki Onsen Station, a free shuttle service operated by the Kinosaki Onsen Tourist Center provides transportation to and from each ryokan. The shuttle service departs between 12:30 and 18:00 according to the express trains arriving at Kinosaki Onsen Station.
Those who wish to use this shuttle service need to inform the ryokan in advance of the arrival time at Kinosaki Onsen Station. When boarding a shuttle bus, please tell a driver the name of the ryokan where you will be staying and your name. It is about a 15-minute walk from Kinosaki Onsen Station to the ryokan.
If you wish to leave your luggage at the Kinosaki Onsen Tourist Center in front of the station, tell staff the name of the ryokan you are staying at and your name, and leave your luggage there for JPY200 per piece. The ryokan staff will carry your luggage for you.
Rooms I would recommend?
If you are staying here, we would recommend a room with a view of the Japanese garden. Also, since this is a traditional wooden building, there is no elevator. The stairs are a bit steep, so we would recommend that elderly people stay in the ground floor rooms. Then since it is a wooden building, we sometimes heard footsteps and voices in the hallway. This ryokan is not suitable for families with small children. Elementary school students and older can stay here.
Then, this ryokan does not have rooms with private onsens. In Kinosaki Onsen, none of the ryokans have rooms with private onsens due to the protection of hot spring resource. However, instead, this ryokan has two excellent private family onsens, which are always free of charge.
How about toiletries & in-room amenities?
All of the amenities are taken care of including enough toiletries, a green tea set, and yukatas, etc. A humidifier was placed in our room as I requested. Then complimentary coffee, English tea, and water, etc. are available at the library lounge. There are some convenience stores within walking distance. Room service is not available. The free WiFi reception was good.
How about In-house Facilities?
This ryokan is not a universal design. There is no lift. If you bring people with weak legs, you may want to inform the staff in advance as they can arrange rooms on 1F.
Then there are wonderful indoor communal onsens in the west wing. There are also two indoor private family onsens, which can be used free of charge whenever available. They are open from 6:00-10:00 and 15:00-24:00.
Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda
Info about Mikiya Ryokan
|Authentic Onsen Ryokan
|Check-in and out times
|60,000 JPY for 2 adults per room
|Free wifi at the lobby only
|Wheelchairs are not available
Pets are not allowed
The free parking lot is available
|Mikiya Ryokan’s MAP
|Free shuttle service from Kinosaki Onsen Station
Need to book it in advance
|Address and TEL
|Mikiya Ryokan’s HP *Japanese only
*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.
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