Every time we visit Japan, there’s always something new for us to experience, it makes the trip even more memorable. AnakJajan bet many of you are interested in staying at Ryokan or traditional Japanese inn/ hotel, well we can easily say that it’s highly recommended. There are many reason to stay in ryokan such as the tatami room, onsen, yukata, kaiseki dinner, etc.
On our recent trip, we finally got the chance to experience the real Omotenashi or Japanese hospitality. Short to say, Japanese hospitality is another level, the service, the onsen, the room, the local dishes, etc, everything is just special.
Just a quick info, Hoshino Resorts is one of the largest operators of resorts and hotels in Japan, it’s well known for locals as top place for omotenashi. KAI is one of their lines for luxury boutique hot spring ryokan.
Our quick escape to KAI Nikko in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture was such a blissful escape with unique location specific experience overlooking breathtaking views of Lake Chuzenji and Mount Nantai, it was on March 2018.
Surrounded with such an amazing nature, it reminds us of our great time in New Zealand. The view is just sooo surreal it looks like painting.
We personally really enjoyed the slow and peaceful life there, breathing the fresh air, feeling the breeze, seeing the views, eating the food with local ingredients. It was seriously one of the best moments in Japan.
Free Shuttle Bus is provided for KAI Nikko guests on winter from 1st Dec from 31st March. Since our visit was on March, we were able to use the free shuttle bus, it was around 3 hours of ride from Tokyo to KAI Nikko. Aside from that, you can ride Limited Express Spacia from JR Shinjuku Station to Tobu Nikko Station and followed with bus ride to the ryokan.
One word to describe the room in KAI Nikko, AMAZING! Our room was “Japanese Style Room with Lake View WL4”, it features tatami floor, marble bathtub, and large window with great view of Lake Chuzenji.
Upon entering, Japanese tea set including local snacks were waiting for us already, including Yukata for us to wear, these are just some example of Japanese hospitality, they pay attention even to the smallest thing.
Staying in such a relaxing and spacious room with serene view like this, it feels like home away from home.
If you pay attention to the details, you’ll realize that the interior inside the room features Kanuma Kumiko or traditional Japanese wooden craft. We got a complimentary starter kit to make coaster mug with “kanuma kumiko” technique. Mr. Jajan loves it so much, he finished making the kumiko coaster in no time.
On the next day when we woke up, we were greeted by heavy snowfall, it was such an awesome surprise. We got to enjoy another version of lake view with full snow.
In the lobby area there’s an elegant looking Lounge and Library decorated with Kanuma Kumiko or traditional Japanese wooden craft with such an intricate and beautiful design overlooking Lake Chuzenji.
During the afternoon, free Champagne and tea are provided for guests. Mr. Jajan loves this area because during the night, we got to enjoy complimentary coffee. We can grind and brew the coffee on our own, then enjoy it with chocolate.
As the concept stated. KAI Nikko is a hot spring ryokan, so experiencing onsen is a must. Here in KAI Nikko, there are indoor and outdoor bath with men and women bath separated.
It was our first time trying outdoor onsen on cold snowy day. AnakJajan would say that it’s such a unique experience, you’ll get the cold breeze but your body will get very warm as well from the hotspring.
For those who asked, yess you have to be completely naked in the hotspring, of course first timer will feel awkward with the idea of being completely naked in front of people, but once you try it, it’s not as uncomfortable as your imagination, everybody is busy enjoying their bath themselves regardless of others. First when you arrive, you can put your belongings in the locker, then take a shower to clean the body, after that you’re ready for onsen.
Seriously onsen is one of the must-do experiences while in Japan. It warms the body and soul.
NOTE: these pictures were taken with permission from KAI Nikko during onsen closing time and there was nobody else.
Enjoying local food is the best way to travel.
One of the major plus points in KAI Nikko is the food, breakfast and dinner are already included during the stay with various exquisite Nikko delicacies in the menu.
First of all, food presentation is on point!! All the dishes are prepared neatly with visually pleasing presentation, you can tell that it’s well made just by looking at it.
As for ingredients, we love the fact thay they use Nikko local ingredients including Nikko specialty, Yuba or jellied tofu skin.
For breakfast, hearty set of menu is served. On one morning, we had Soymilk Hotpot with Yuba and Wagyu Beef which was incredibly delicious, the broth was smooth and comforting with melt-in-the-mouth yuba/tofu skin and meat, so sooo good!
Then for dinner, multi-course kaiseki meals is prepared with local seasonal ingredients. One of the most memorable one was their signature beef steamed in a in a custom-made box crafted from local Oya stone to bring out the best flavor.
The food they prepare will be changed regularly everyday depends on the season and the ingredients. For example on our last night, we had a super colorful fun spring theme dishes that were beautifully executed with super memorable flavor. Double thumbs up for the food in KAI Nikko.
During the night, right in front of the restaurant, there’s a fun and free entertainment called Geta Show in purpose to introduce and preserve Nikko Geta or traditional straw sandals with wooden soles that have been crafted in Nikko for 400 years. The show was fun followed by interactive performance.
Of course exploring around is a must since you have travelled all the way to Nikko.
You can walk around and enjoy the beauty of Lake Chuzenji and Mount Nanta, try some local food from restaurants nearby. Soba noodle soup is one of the popular local dish as well as yuba-based dishes.
You can visit famous local spots like Kego Falls, Tosho-gu Temple, the iconic Shinkyo bridge, etc.
If you are looking for a great place to relax and to reset your body and soul, Japanese hospitality or Omotenashi is certainly the answer. Thank you Nikko for the magical snowfall, and thank you Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko for the memorable experiences, the room, the food, the service, the hospitality, we can strongly call it a true omotenashi experience.
Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko
2482-1 Chugu, Nikko-shi,
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