Thursday, November 29, 2007

11/9/07: Day 8 in Japan Part III - Ryokan Experience

I spent this evening in a ryokan (旅館) in Kyoto. Ryokan translates as "traveler's lodge," and is different from your Marriots and Hiltons in several aspects. First, ryokan is very traditional in appearance, having tatami mats and traditional bedding. Secondly, the rates are based mostly on "hospitality" at ryokan instead of "by rooms." This means that at ryokan, meal(s) are included, and rates are assessed per capita.

I stayed at Kagihei (加ぎ平) located on the easter part of Kyoto, adjacent to the famed Nishiki Ichiba (錦市場), the covered street ("arcade") full of markets and stores. Arriving after the nightfall, the lit entrance offered relaxing sense of tradition in the middle of a busy city.

For this evening, I bought two bottles of "Koto Sen-nen" (古都千年), made under Eikun (英勲) label by Saito Brewery (齊藤酒造). The "Koto Sen-nen" ("thousand years of old city") series commemorates Kyoto, established over 1,200 years ago in 794 A.D.

The first bottle is the Junmai Daiginjo (SMV: +3.5, Acidity: 1.2, Rice: Iwai & Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 45%) Iwai is used for Koji(麹), and Yamadanishiki is used for kaké (掛), the non-Koji part of the mash. Fruity, deep, some grain, spices, somewhat like Omachi. This paired well with mild dishes, such as the soft Yuba (湯葉).

Next, I tried the Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.3, Rice: Iwai, Seimaibuai:55%) Using 100% Iwai rice, indigenous to Kyoto, the saké had mild nose, clean flavors grain, fruit, and spices. This paired very well with whatever they call this particular fish.

The breakfast was just as exquisite, and I can only imagine how well Koto Sen-nen would have paired with these traditional dishes.

I would definitely pair Junmai Daiginjo with this tofu...

An evening stay was about $200, but considering the dinner, breakfast, accomodations, and hospitaliy, was definitely worth it. If you have the luxury of time, do go north to Lake Biwa area of Shiga Prefecture, where there are numerous onsen ryokan (温泉旅館), featuring natural hot springs...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That fish looks like ayu, a fresh-water river fish that is in season from spring through summer.