1682 Ichinomiya-machi, Takayama, Gifu, Japan
"Following 2 nights at Honjin Hiranoya Kachoan, which is located smack dab in the center of Takayama (great for exploring the historic district), we were ready to stay somewhere a bit more intimate, rural and with much more rustic charm. Wanosato was our choice, and it surpassed our already high expectations. Located about 25 minutes (or so) by car to Takayama city proper (Wanosato also offers a free shuttle service into the city), Wanosato feels like a world away. It's nestled along the banks of an idyllic river, and is surrounded by a gorgeous forest. It's really a serene environment in which to build a small, charming, rustic Japanese ryokan, and with just 8 well-appointed rooms, that's exactly what they did with Wanosato. Upon arrival, we marveled at the old-school architecture of the main structure with its Gassho-zukuri thatched-roof construction and earthen walls - this is where the reception, common area, communal (men/women separate, of course) onsen bath and dining areas are located. The main lounge is an Instagrammer's delight - There's an open "irori" hearth in the center, and features hardwood floors, exposed wood beams and ancient (at least to our eyes) Japanese antiques lining the walls. We chose to stay at one of the four villas - the Garyu Villa - (臥龍 離れ) to be precise. Spanning 110m² it had two sitting rooms, a bedroom, and a big living area with an open hearth. It's also right along the bank of the gorgeous river, which you can hear its soothing sounds from the room. The bathroom was equally spacious and had both a shower and a wooden tub. Unfortunately, the in-room bath is not of the onsen (hot spring water) variety; you'll have to visit the main communal bathing area for your onsen fix. While it's not ideal, it's not a big deal, either... with only 8 rooms as previously mentioned, it is rarely occupied at any one time. We went twice and never shared the space with another soul. Service was discreet, although it may had more to do with the spread-out nature of the property and the fact that Wanosato only has 8 guest rooms. While we didn't have much in the way of needs during our stay, we weren't expecting 5-star levels of service with an all-star concierge manning the front desk day and night like a big luxury hotel. That said, everyone was professional and charming, if a bit muted (save for Momoka, server for dinner on the second night - she was a big ball of charm, energy and sweetness.) Overall, nothing went unattended - no major service flaws to speak of. Another highlight was the food... it was exquisite. We've stayed at many of Japan's finest luxury ryokans, and Wanosato is up there with the best. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, mind you. Takayama means "tall mountain" in Japanese, which means its forte is vegetables, the local Hida Beef (which is amazing), and two river fish - Ayu and Iwana. Most other seafood comes from outside of the region, meaning it's not going to compete with places along th"
"Absolutely one of the best experiences we've ever had. We stayed in the Kariyasu Villa overlooking the stream at the end of the property. The breakfast and dinner were astonishingly unbelievable. All of the dishes were of local specialties or Japanese: river fishes, sashimi, Hida beef, and so on. So if you're not open to fully experience Japanese cuisine, then try more westernized hotels and don't go to a traditional ryokan. The quality is beyond or like any Michelin starred restaurant we've been to and the quantity: come hungry! We were served by the kindest and warmest people. Sure, the English is more simplified, but we're in Japan! If you want fluent English, probably best not to go to other countries other than US or UK. Also, it's the twentieth century: Google Translate! We stayed 4 days/3 nights and enjoyed the onsen every night and day ... at our last day we even went twice! They switch the female and male onsens in the morning & evening. We were by ourselves for the most part and preferred the room with rock tubs. The evenings around the fire with hot sake was truly magical. The room does get smokey, but if you listened/learned a little about ryokans and traditional Japanese homes, it's to keep the building from rotting and repels the insects. In all, we're already talking about when we can again treat ourselves to go back!"
"We stayed 2 nights in a suite of rooms overlooking the stream. It was great and lived up to the reviews I had read. The food was exceptional and although the traditional breakfast is unusual for a Western guest, it was beautiful served and so fresh. The evening meals were exquisite in how they were served and tasted amazing. The staff were lovely and although basic English, so polite and helpful. Don’t miss the evening magic show although he’s not in the Magic Circle but makes up for laughter & shows how he does it. Constantly filling up your bamboo cup with warm smooth Sake. So worth the inconvenience of getting an early morning taxi to station. Would definitely recommend it as as lovely experience in a Ryokan. My husband used the onsen but I preferred using our large wooden bath."