When we arrived at Kagaonsen Station, we were personally met by the Manager of Beniya Mukayu. He quickly got our bags into the van we were on our way to the Ryokan. While on our way, he provided us with some information and highlights of Kaga Onsen. This personal touch was fantastic and definitely appreciated after our long train journey.
As you drive up to Beniya Mukayu, you are immediately impressed with the facility. It presents itself to you as a place of luxury nestled into a wilderness backdrop that tells you that you are about to have an experience of deep relaxation and pleasure. We were there in March just before the blossoms of Spring arrived. I can just imagine how even more beautiful this area is from Spring to Fall.
Entering the lobby I was struck by the simplicity of the furnishing and the casualness of the atmosphere, this almost Zen like feeling upon entering was accentuated by the soothing aroma of incense that filled the lobby. We were met by the owner of Beniya Mukayu, Sachiko, with her wonderful and friendly personality, was able to make us feel like old friends even though we had just met. Once again, our bags were transported to our room for us and we were given a personal tour of their facility by Sachiko who, I must mention, speaks great English.
To put it simply, this facility is amazing. The tour started in the an area just off of the main lobby where guest can sit in a peaceful environment, and enjoy the gorgeous views of the trees and garden outside while enjoying a beverage for the small bar off to the side. A real specialty is their freshly squeezed juice, available from a variety of fruits to choose from.
We then went up a small flight of stairs to the right of the lobby where we entered a large library that provides for a really serene and quiet respite for any travelers. The quiet seating area in the main area of the library is designed with little in the way of decorations or distractions with various seating options to meet the needs of the guests. If you would like to read, but unfortunately forgot your own book, a separate room provides various reading materials in a wide variety of topics in both Japanese and English.
Our next stop was their spa area where their professional staff is highly skilled in providing their clients with a variety of treatments based upon an Herbal Matrix, where they will carefully select herbs to prepare your herbal balls, herbal infusions, and herbal teas based upon your own physical condition and requests. Their guests can enjoy a variety of treatments including Body Treatments, Facial Treatments, Foot and Head Massages, and other treatments available depending on the season.
This facility is truly designed to provide their guest with the ultimate in relaxation and comfort, allowing you to truly let your concerns and tensions slip away as they use techniques and minerals to soothe and rejuvenate your body and mind. We made a quick stop to the entrance to their communal Hot Spring facilities, of which I will write more of later in this blog as we did not enter the facility as part of the tour for the privacy of those using the facilities.
Next to the spa area is their large dining hall. This room is very unique in its design as it not only is the venue for their meals, but also serves as their facility where guests can participate in yoga classes every morning. The room is essentially divided into two, with the far half composing of the main seating area for meals and the closer half having more of a multi-functional feel for other activities, such as yoga. The wooded pillars that occupy the room, allows the staff to partition the room as required.
Sachiko, then proceeded to give us a tour of the various styles of guest rooms that they have at Beniya Mukayu. There are only 16 rooms in total, and I am assuming that this is to assist in providing a quiet and non-rushed atmosphere at the Ryokan and to enhance the relaxation of their guests. They provide Japanese style rooms, Western style rooms, Japanese/Western style rooms and their Wakamurasaki Suite rooms. Beyond the fact that each and every one of these rooms is spectacular in terms of the layout, amenities and comfort, each room also has its own private open-air hot spring bath for personal enjoyment.
Most Ryokans that we visited on our trip only provided individual private hot springs in a few specially selected rooms; Beniya Mukayu has made this a standard for all of their guests.
The rooms themselves are all very spacious and provide you with a fantastic escape. All the rooms have a great view of the luxurious grove of trees that populate the grounds of Beniya Mukayu or of the town in Yamashiro (Japanese/Western room) depending on the floor. The beds in every room are quite comfortable and spacious, upon our arrival we were asked what type of pillows we would prefer to use during our stay (I chose feather, while my wife chose a memory foam pillow). Depending on the style of room you will either have an open-air or covered veranda. In the Wakamurasaki Suite, obviously the larger choice to be had, you are provided with a dining table in the sunken kotatsu style (low to the floor but you sit normally with your legs going into the open are under the table).
The bathrooms in each room also come fully stocked with the various lotions that include a cleansing gel, facial wash, lotion, emulsion, and a body lotion. These are unique lotions are made specifically for Beniya Mukayu and were definitely wonderful to use and nourishing to the skin. Each room also has separate seating areas, a television, and in-suite Wi-Fi. In all, they are designed foe maximum comfort and relaxation, and trust me, they deliver.
After our tour, we settled into our room, the Japanese/Western style room, and enjoyed a welcoming cup of tea and confectionery. We both put on the traditional Japanese Yukata and headed down to the communal hot springs. These facilities were very clean and quite large. The main changing area provided baskets in which to place my Yukata and sandals, and the washing area was kept very tidy. After washing, I entered the communal open-air bathe to enjoy a long hot soak in the rejuvenating alkaline spring water kept a approximately 40 degrees Celsius. The open-air bath was a large cedar tub, and since I was the only one there at the time it provided more than enough room. I would guess that 5 or 6 men could enjoy it at the same time with no problems. The bath itself, was nestled against the grove of trees that you see from most of the rooms at Beniya Mukayu, but of course your privacy is preserved by the placement of bamboo and trees. Before leaving the facility I tried out to indoor hot spring which was much larger than the outdoor one, and by being indoors I could really feel the effects of the heat on my face as the steam rose from the water. Overall, a thoroughly pleasurable and stress relieving experience.
As I walked back to my room, in the full knowledge that my wife would still be in the women’s communal hot spring, I stopped at the lounge area of the lobby to enjoy a complimentary glass of freshly squeezed juice. I chose apple. This small glass of juice was quite refreshing after my hot spring, and the juice itself was 100% pure with nothing added which made it absolutely amazing to enjoy. While enjoying my juice my wife arrived and after she enjoyed her juice, we were invited to experience their tea ceremony.
This tea ceremony took place in a small, intimate cabin situated amongst the grove of trees. The ceremony was provided to us by Sachiko’s husband. This ceremony was definitely more formal and traditional than the previous one that I had experienced at Hoshinoya (again, that casual ceremony was great in it’s ability to prepare me for future ceremonies). We entered the room wearing our Yukatas and kneeled on the small cushion next to a burning candle. The room itself was very cozy and the dim lighting provided a real authentic ambience. Our host appeared from a side room wearing traditional robes and provided us each with a confectionery to cleanse our palates. As we ate this, he prepared the tea from scratch using the traditional Japanese methods. We both took our turns enjoying the tea. Afterwards, he was more than happy to answer any of our questions and was a very gracious host. We then returned to our room and rested before dinner.
Dinner was served in the main dining hall and was Kaiseki style, this is where several small dishes are served individually over the course of the meal. Typically, a Ryokan will base the menu of their Kaiseki dinner in consideration of the specialties of their region in Japan as well as the current season. Thankfully for me, this meant that we were going to experience a glorious 9 course meal where 5 of the dishes were featuring snow crab – a personal favourite. As mentioned previously, there are only 16 rooms in total at Beniya Mukayu and a wonderful result is that the dining room is not extremely busy or noisy. A Kaiseki meal is meant to be an experience, if not an adventure, and the staff and owner of Beniya Mukayu provide you with a level of service that is unparalleled. They prepare the courses, often right at you table, and assist you throughout the meal that makes you feel as if you are their only guests without ever becoming bothersome. This is a fine line, and they worked it to perfection.
Our dinner was completely fantastic, and with its conclusion we were more than ready for bed. We returned to our rooms and ready and excited to see what the next day would hold.
We woke up early in the morning in order to make sure that we fully took advantage of this gorgeous Ryokan. My wife quickly got herself prepared and went to the large dining hall where they have complimentary yoga classes every morning before breakfast. Our hostess, Sachiko, often leads these classes but today there was a different instructor. My wife found it to be very relaxing and not too strenuous as it is geared towards beginners to encourage their guests to attend. She found it a great way to prepare for the day.
Meanwhile, it was a beautiful sunny morning and I could think of no better way to start my day than to have a private open-air hot spring bath on the balcony in our room. The wonderful thing about hot spring baths is that they are always hot and ready to go. In mere minutes I was immersed in the revitalizing alkaline spring water.
When we were given the tour yesterday by Sachiko she told us how the hot spring in the area had been discovered by a Buddhist saint about 1,300 years ago on his way to Hakusan Mountain (White Mountain).
“He carved a figure of Yakushi Nyorai (Healing Buddha), placed it as the main deity, and enshrined Hakusan God to be the guardian of the hot spring… It is historically known that the area around Yakuoin Onsenji used to be called ‘Yakushiyama (Healing Buddha’s Mountain)’ for its high spirituality, which was a place for training and learning for Buddhist monks, and at the same time, a place for healing , where monks cured people by providing hot spring baths and preparing medicinal herbs.”
Sachiko Nakamichi – Proprietress of Beniya Mukayu
After a very relaxing morning of yoga and hot spring baths, we made our way to the dining hall for breakfast. I enjoyed a Western Style breakfast of a bacon and cheese omelette, yogurt, fresh fruits, a fresh organic vegetable salad, toast and coffee. The food was fantastic, but what I really remember is the wide selection of freshly squeezed juice that was available. And By freshly squeezed, I mean… that they actually squeezed the juice at their main table seconds before serving it to you based on your request. My wife had a Japanese style breakfast consisting of grilled flat fish (grilled on the table), a special brand of rice cooked in a stone pot, seaweed with Beniya Mukayu original soy sauce, boiled and dried young sardines, seaweed with mushrooms, a Japanese style folded omelette with grated radish and organic boiled vegetables with plum and sesame sauce, miso soup, Japanese pickles, Beniya Mukayu special blend coffee, and Kaga original green tea. The food was excellent as once, once again, the service from the entire staff at Beniya Mukayu.
As we checked out, I must say that I was sorry to be leaving this wonderful Ryokan. I truly enjoyed every minute that I was here from the warm and friendly staff, Sachiko – our wonderful and generous hostess and her husband who performed our beautiful tea ceremony, the relaxing and invigorating hot springs, the luxurious selection of soothing and nourishing lotions, and the wonderful food. The entire experience at Beniya Mukayu was perfect and I highly recommend anyone to visit this wonderful Ryokan.
To learn more about Beniya Mukayu or to book it through us, please contact us here here.
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