This year for Christmas i visited a very special ryokan with my merry band of foreign coworkers. It took us 2.5 hours in train then 20mins by bus to get there. I was so excited about it because this ryokan has an interesting history.
The founder and owner family of the ryokan is the descendants of the Taira samurai clan, who lost in the Genpei War. The story goes that the remaining Taira samurais went in to exile after the decisive war which saw the founding of the first military shadow government in Japan, the Kamakura Bakufu. After almost 500 years living peacefully and found the Onsen along the way, the direct descendants of the fifth son of Taira Shigemori, the heir to Taira Kiyomori who was in turn the leader of the Taira clan during the height of its power, founded this Ryokan. The current proud owner of this 7th oldest business in Tochigi prefecture is of the 25th generation.
We were welcomed into the establishment with the sounding of welcome taiko, then shown to our room overlooking the river. The onsen were supreme. With nice inner bath and a half open air bath on the river bank, where you could watch the snow fell and disappeared into the creek.
Dinner was the most unique experience. We had many interesting things roasting in front of us and an extensive variety of appetizers. I was truly wowed by the venison sashimi, then by the sashimi of sweetfish. also interesting to find out Konyaku sashimi did not sit well with my foreigner friends.
This ryokan would make the list of those i would revisit if given the chance. And would truly recommend to anyone looking for an unique experience in Japan.