Ryokan Experience, Kourakuen in Otaru 小樽宏楽園温泉旅館
Staying in a Japanese Ryokan is one of the unique experience that visitors to Japan must try. These japanese-style inns offer traditional facilities like onsen, tatami floors, futon beds and multi course meals known as Kaiseki. As part of our Hokkaido trip, we went to for a day stay at Kourakuen Onsen Ryokan in Otaru.
Located in Asarigawa Onsen area of Otaru City, Kourakuen ryokan sport a huge japanese garden at the entrance and is one of the best well known onsen ryokan in whole of Japan. As it was winter during our trip, there is not much to see in the garden due to constant heavy snow pileup at this region.
We booked a afternoon day stay at the ryokan for a room with private onsen. This is our first experience of having a private bath area in such a wonderful inn!
The onsen is a small bath area offering an unique outdoor experience with views of the garden in sight. The water was hot but comfortable, and is supposed to provide skin-beautifying effect. One thing about onsen in Japan is each of the hot spring water seems to provide different kind of healing effect. There are always signboards with explanation of what the water provides.
It was still snowing when we were there. Soaking in the open-air onsen, enjoying the garden views under snowfall, is such a surreal experience.
There is a small outdoor bathing area that can’t be used, as all the water pipe were dead frozen under the cold weather.
After enjoying the onsen, Kaiseki was served by the staff. Each dish was carefully placed and arranged nicely. Actually, we are not sure if this is considered a Kaiseki, it seems a little ‘little’ compared to what we had previously in Kyoto. Anyway, the food was great and we enjoyed thoroughly.
It was just a day trip which we booked for 3 hours. After the meal, we checked out and went to explore the garden.
Staying in a Ryokan is not cheap and we don’t do that too often. However, Kourakuen in Otaru is definitely top notch and if given the chance, we would love to come back and stay for a proper night.