Sumiyoshi Ryokan (壽美吉 旅館) is not just a traditional ryokan, the delicious cuisine and warm hospitality make it an unmissable experience.
Sumiyoshi Ryokan (壽美吉 旅館)
Sumiyoshi Ryokan over looks the tranquil Miyagama river and is a short 10 minute walk from Takayama station. Nearby, there are several restaurants, as well as a 7-11 (convenience store). Local attractions such as the Morning Market and Takayama Old Town are all within walking distance (10-15 minutes). Despite being so conveniently located, there’s hardly any noise except for the calm flowing river.
Our room actually consisted of three tatami rooms separated by shoji dividers. The first room functioned as a combined dining and living room with a maroon, lacquered table as the centre piece. The other two rooms would be our sleeping quarters. As Sumiyoshi is a traditional ryokan, there’s no modern beds to be found, instead futons are laid out by the staff every night. The thick futons were extremely comfortable and kept me warm and toasty despite the frigid weather outside.
The room we booked had a shared bathroom but there’s also rooms with private bathrooms (at a higher cost). The shared bathroom has a modern toilet (with all the buttons) and a wash basin. There’s two traditional bath tubs, one for men and one for women.
Throughout the ryokan, you’ll find antiques such as samurai armour and Japanese dolls. There’s also a tea room, where on occasion, the owners conduct tea ceremonies for guests!
Part of the appeal of staying at a traditional ryokan is the cuisine that is served by the owners. Sumiyoshi Ryokan serves kaiseki (traditional, multi course meals) for both dinner and breakfast. Even though Sumiyoshi is a family run business, the kaiseki served was exquisitely presented and of an incredible quality. The star dish of our dinner was without a doubt, the Hida beef, a local breed of cow that’s highly prized for its marbling. Served in a mini sukiyaki pot, the sliced beef was buttery smooth and melted instantly in my mouth. A shot of sake is provided as a sweet finish to the feast.
For breakfast, we were served yet another Takayama delicacy, hoba miso (朴葉味噌). The savoury miso mixture is spread on a dried magnolia leaf and grilled at the table. Alongside the hobo miso, there was also rice, assorted pickles, seaweed, miso soup, a steamed egg and green tea. The delicate flavours and balanced servings made for a healthy and appetising breakfast.
Check in and check out was a breeze. The warm hospitality of the staff and owners really adds to the authentic charm of Sumiyoshi Ryokan, especially the granny who served us our meals and made us down our sake!
As we were checking out, the owners presented us with a pair of lacquered chopsticks as a souvenir. To this day, I still use the chopsticks at home!
Experiencing a ryokan is a must for those wanting to experience the traditional side of Japan. If you visit Takayama, then staying at Sumiyoshi Ryokan should be at the top of your bucket list!
This review was based on an independently paid visit.