Thursday, November 12, 2015

Japan 2015 - Wanosoto: A Great Rustic Ryokan

After our wonderful but huge lunch at Hinokiya in Gero Onsen, we traveled to Wanosoto, a lovely traditional inn near Takayama.

The first thing one sees upon entering this ryokan is a traditional charcoal brazier with a boiling kettle hung on a hook above it. After dinner we returned to sit around the fire enjoying sake and the comforting smell of burning charcoal.

Large brazier near Wanosato's entry
Wanosoto's huge rooms are in separate buildings scattered along the property, each with views of a rushing stream and, at this time of year, glorious foliage.

A room (a house, really) at Wanosoto
The food was excellent, and we hugely enjoyed it despite being more than sated at lunch.

Early dishes included a vegetable medley with pickled loches (a small fish) beautifully presented on a pull-out tray from a lacquer box, and a sashimi plate incorporating a whole larger loche.

Vegetables and pickled baby loches (lower left)
Big loche with sashimi
and dobi mushi, a soup dish filled with ___ that is always served in a crockery vessel like this one.

Dobi mushi -- soup and vegetable inside
Next up was local hida beef, as good and well-marbled as the more-famous kobe beef, which we grilled ourselves on a plate over a hibachi, accompanied by a slice of shiitake mushroom that cooked in the sizzling fat. Some found this dish to be too rich; others, including me, found it sublime.

Extremely marbled hida beef and mushroom, before and while cooking
As is traditional at a good ryokan, breakfast the next morning was copious and excellent. Among the assorted plates was another portion of the precious hida beef, this time grilled in miso over a leaf instead of a ceramic plate. Fantastic.

And the obligatory grilled dried fish as a principal course, served with very typical slices of rolled omelet,

followed by rice and pickles and miso soup. A good, if rather excessive, start to the day.

Bobby Jay

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