By Neal Dang
For those travelers coming to Japan and wish to explore its traditions and culture, staying in a ryokan is a unique opportunity they should not miss. A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese Inn that originated in the Edo period, when such inns served travelers along Japan’s highways. Kotobukiya Ryokan is located in the heart of Ureshino, facing the spa town and with amazing views of the river. It is a 5 minutes walk from JR Bus Ureshino Onsen Station. Ureshino is a town of hot springs in Saga Prefecture included in “Japan’s best three places with beauty enhancing hot spring water”. There are many things to see in Ureshino area. You can stay in town to leisurely view the central hot spring area, or go a little outside of town to enjoy the beautiful nature.
The guest rooms are constructed using traditional Japanese methods: flooring is tatami and doors are sliding doors. Some rooms feature a porch or balcony, also set off with a sliding door. I was one of the lucky ones to enjoy a room with balcony with stunning views over the river. I loved each evening I spent there with a nice cup of Ureshino green tea just after having a bath in the onsen. This traditional guesthouse, as almost all ryokans, features a common bathing area or ofuro using the water from a hot spring. The water of Ureshino hot springs is soft and the minerals in it wash off the skin and emulsify making your skin silky and shiny after a bath. They provide you with towels and a yukata (casual summer kimono) to wear.
The bed is a futon on the tatami floor. When you first enter in the room you find a table and some supplies for making tea. But at bedtime a member of the staff will move the table aside and set out the futon.
I don’t speak Japanese and they don’t speak English, but it was not a problem at all. The staff was very friendly and helpful and I felt always welcomed with their smile. I really appreciate the hospitality of Yamazaki Sama. She is always taking care of you. She makes your stay here amazing. I will miss her green tea and the delicious yudofu she offered me for breakfast the day I left. That simmering tofu in hot spring water made a milky broth with soft tofu that melted in your mouth.
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