Ever since we tried the wonderful Yamanochaya Ryokan in Hakone, we couldn't stop thinking of going to a ryokan again! So, when we went to Hokkaido this time around, we heard wonderful stuff about the little onsen town Noboribetsu, so we found this gorgeous place that had private onsens (a requirement for C) and booked Takinoya.
Last time, when we stayed in Hakone, we really felt that one night wasn't enough. Because typically their check-in times are in the late afternoon, and by the time you visit an onsen and eat a 2 hour dinner, it's time to rest - and at 10am it's check-out time.
But because Noboribetsu, and Hokkaido in general is harder to get to - we were able to stay in this stunning ryokan for two nights at almost the same price as one night in Hakone. Hakone is just a beautiful retreat for tourists and Japan tourists in general, so it really can command a higher price point. So yay for two nights in a gorgeous place!
I learned that these onsens also have various kinds. This one at Takinoya was definitely more sulfuric and cloudy than the ones in Hakone. In fact, a lot of our clothing that we wore after being in the onsen water still have these sulfuric smell.
Takinoya's private onsen are seriously top notch. You could slide open the slits or the windows themselves to look at the stunning nature outside. We went almost spring in Hokkaido, and so the trees were starting to become green. However, the next day, it started snowing! So it was another gorgeous sight to look at and reflect upon. How does one not enjoy how beautiful it is?
Almost the same photo, taken just 12 hours apart!
Now, since the next day snowed so much, we pretty much stayed indoors. I mean, that's kind of what you do at a ryokan anyway - just relax, dip in the onsen, meditate, eat deliciously prepared foods... it's not for doing a ton of outdoor activities. The little town of Noboribetsu basically had some stores and we bought some Hokkaido souvenirs, so we got our shopping done and went back home.
Usually in a ryokan, you get 2 meals per day - breakfast, which is huge and elaborate, and a dinner that is also really well thought out and delicious. It was a wonderful experience trying out the different meal this time around since we stayed for two days.
And of course, I do force my husband to wear the yukata whenever he's at the onsen, to look the part! Haha. He absolutely loves staying at the onsen though, I think it's really relaxing for his body which is usually inflamed.
The Takinoya ryokan also has other public onsens you can visit. And the beauty about these public onsens is that they're always all men and all women only, so you really do still have your privacy. It's a really quiet and serene place, people don't usually talk to each other unless you are with a friend, and people keep to themselves.
I was so lucky to be able to visit one of the onsens and no one was there! And what a view. Watching the trees show some buds and some happy trees, it made me reflect so much on life.
Outside the onsen, this was the view of the sleepy Noboribetsu town.
I was getting a little restless by the afternoon since we got back from shopping in the morning, I mean I can only stay in the onsen for so long, so I went out for another walk. Thankfully most of the snow had melted so it was easier to walk around. I went to 7-11 and had a little snack haul.
I discovered the joy of eating Hokkaido Milk Pudding. Seriously my mind was blown. Haha! It was absolutely delicious. I can't believe I had only tried it this time when our trip to Hokkaido was only over. I would also discover that you can't really find it in the Tokyo convenience stores, so I really had so much fun eating this. It was so good. And of course, I bought a whole bunch of other Hokkaido-only snacks. Yum! :) This is how you get fat / gain weight while being on vacation. Truthfully I was being really good since the half-marathon was just two weeks away, I was still working out every single day, but my consumption of food on the other hand....
And with our broken Japanese and actions, we were able to explain that our flight was at 11AM the next day, so we would need to leave by 830 at the latest to get to the airport, because we still needed to return the car and it usually takes an hour to get from the airport. Thankfully they were super accommodating and was able to prepare our breakfast by 7 and we had a leisurely breakfast before we left.
Driving around Hokkaido was really so nice. The roads were really well maintained for having so much snow, and there weren't many cars at all. It was also pretty easy to gas up and return the car afterwards, and we headed to Tokyo for some relaxing shopping and tsukemen eating!
Thanks for reading! I would definitely recommend staying at Takinoya again if you're in Noboribetsu ;) Booked it on Japanican.com.