Friday, November 13, 2015

Japan 2015 - Beniya Mukayu: An Elegant Ryokan

Leaving Wanosato, we headed for Takayama, where we strolled the open air market,
Dried persimmons at Takayam's morning market
 and then wandered the picturesque streets to a couple of interesting local museums.

Persimmons drying in downtown Takayama
From Takayama we went to Shirakawa-go, perhaps the prettiest village in Japan, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shirakawa-go features gassho-style thatched buildings that resemble Alpine chalets, not surprising in light of the huge snowfalls in these, the "Japanese Alps."

Shirakawa-go: is there a prettier village anywhere?
After exhausting our camera batteries, we left for the luxurious Beniya Mukayu Inn, a member of the prestigious Relais and Chateau group. The rooms come equipped with private  outdoor cedar tubs, but the communal baths (of which I partook) are very lovely, too. The food, needless to say, is exquisite.

Dinner was, as usual for a high-end ryokan, an elegant, seasonal, multi-course kaiseki affair.

We started with something I can no longer identify (fish roe?), partially obscured by a leaf skelaton, and a pretty spectacular vegetable plate.

Starters an Beniya Mukayu
Next was a wonderful, and surprisingly not scary, sea cucumber soup served in a hollowed out real cucumber.

Then a seasonal vegetable medley with a chestnut, some gingko nuts, a half potato,  a shishito pepper, a shiitake mushroom and a slice of precious matsutake

Seasonal vegetable medley
Following this was fish presented hidden between two thin cedar planks, a meatball soup and dessert consisting of an ice cream sandwich and fresh fruits.

Fish, soup and dessert courses at Beniya Mukayu
A ryokan experience is not complete without breakfast. There was a morning yoga class in the dining room so we had to suffer along with a bento breakfast in the room. But not just any bento, a lovely, healthful and tasty one.

Breakfast bento at Beniya Mukayu
The next day, however, we had a more classic breakfast. I had the Japanese one, a small part of which is pictured below, while other had a satisfying Western style meal.

Japanese breakfast at Beniya Mukayu
Beniya is not exactly on the beaten track, but a great place to go if you are in Central Japan.

Bobby Jay

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