We stayed a night at Matsuyama city and our hotel booked very near to the main attraction; Dogo Onsen, Dogo Onsen Shopping streets and Dogo Train Station. Within walking distance is about 10 mins. The hotel is called Yukai Resort Dogo Saichoraku.
Japan Ryokan Style
Japan offer several type of accommodation in both Japanese and Western styles. One of them is the Japanese style Ryokan. Yukai Resort Dogo Saichoraku is more like a Ryokan, ie a traditional style inn with Japanese style rooms where you will sleep on tatami floor and pull on the sliding door in your room. There is always a common onsen/hot springs bath facilities. The stay at a ryokan usually include Japanese style of dinner and breakfast and you are expected to wear the “yukata”/Japanese casual garment to come down to have dinner and breakfast.
At the lobby hallway, a Yukata corner for you to choose your favorite print and size of the yukata. Yukata is the Japanese clothing wear during summer or casual, usually in cotton. It is different from kimono as kimono is formal wear and usually made from silk or high-end material, plus very complicated to wear a kimono. There are sample of yukata hanging for you to check out the print. Men & women & children yukata are different but all are labelled by the size base on your height in cm. The standard obi belt is at your room. Use it to tie around your waist.
Ryokan Room Review
The first thing you notice when you enter a Ryokan room is the tatami floor and the sliding door and the short table. You will sleep on the futon bed provided on the tatami floor which is made from rice straw. You don’t feel cold when you step on the tatami mat floor.
Shoji / The Japanese Sliding Door
The Japanese sliding door is called Shoji and made from traditional paper and wooden frame. When I first arrived in Japan as a student many years ago, I tried to use my saliva to poke on these sliding door to see if I can see through just like in the movie. No, you can’t poke with your finger. These paper are called washi/Japanese traditional paper and very thick and strong.
Ther yukata outer jacket in free size is hanging at the wardrobe. The obi belt and clean towels are also provided. You are expected to wear the yukata jacket also in case you are feeling cold. There are 5 outer jackets so this room is meant for 5 person. Japanese accommodation is charged based on how many person. You can stay in this big room even there are only 2 person.
No chairs as you are expected to sit on the tatami mat floor with the short table.
Experience Japanese Toilet
Japanese toilet is amazing to use. There are so many advance features & setting but most come with a little drawing beside and you may roughly guess what it is. Everything is control by buttons so all you have to do is just use your finger to press on these function, even for opening and closing of the toilet seats. That way your hand won’t get dirty from touching the toilet seats.
1. Seat warming – I love this feature especially during winter, the moment you sit on the toilet bowl, you don’t feel like an electric shock of coldness, especially the first thing in the morning. Instead you feel so warm and comfortable and reluctant to stand up.
2. Oshiri/arse & bidet wash – water spray with the control of water temperature and pressure.
3. Otohime (sound princess) MY FAVORITE 🙂 – A noise generator that create a camouflaging noise play without an actual water flush to disguise the real sound that you created during your pee or poo. It is to let you pee and poo in peace and without worrying the next door hearing you. (Japanese are thoughtful that they even think of this feature) LOL.
4. Hand Wash at the top – Once you flushed, there are clean water coming out from the top at the same time for you to wash your hands. This water will be recycled and use for the next flush.
There is a bathtub in the bathroom if you don’t feel like going to the public bath in the Ryokan. Japanese bathtub are usually shorter in length but deeper as Japanese sit and soak their whole body when they take ofuro/bath.
Japanese Dinner Buffet Review
Once we changed our yukata, we rushed down for our Japanese dinner which start from 6 pm onwards.
At the entrance, there are rubber bands to hold your sleeves when you eat your dinner.
Introducing Japanese Dishes
Nimono (stewed dishes, 煮物)
Nabemono (one pot cooking, 鍋物)
Chuka refer to Chinese cuisine in Japan and one of the signature in Chuka Chinese in Japan has to be Mapo tofu. I would have to say the Chuka Chinese tasted very different from the Chinese food we have back home in Singapore and in China. Japanese has their own version of Chinese food tailored for the Japanese taste bud. I still like it.
At the noodles bar, Japanese somen in white or Japanese soba in brown. Both way of eating them, you can eat them in chill or hot. Do remember to put the topping such as ginger, spring onion and wasabi.
Do try the Japanese dressing such as sesame or “wafu” 和風 dressing.
All sort of fried stuff with coated tempura flour, such as fried lotus root, fried pumpkin slice, fried shrimps, fried squid, fried octopus etc. You usually eat with the dashi/sauce and daikon oroshi/ grated raddish.
Sushi & Sashimi Bar
Japanese wagashi/和菓子 dessert
Dango with kinako / roasted soybean flour and black honey. Super yummy.
You need to pre-book for the karaoke room.
Manga / Comic Corner
Ping pong corner
Ehime Prefecture is famous for their mandarin oranges/mikan so you see cookies are made with mandarin flavor.
Onsen / Hot Spring Review
When you stay in Japanese ryokan, one thing you cannot miss is going to the onsen bath. It is usually a public bath. Men and women bath are separated. Long time ago, there are onsen for both men and women mix together but these day most of the onsen are separated. The blue is for men and red is for women.
There are usually lockers but some just baskets like so to put your stuff. Japanese are honest people so do not worry your thing will be gone. However still leave your valuable thing in your room when you come to onsen bath.
1. No bathing suits is allowed, no underwear etc, strictly naked. You are allowed to bring in the small facial towel but that small towel are not allowed in the onsen bath. For you to wash your body when you shower.
2. Take a shower in front of all the onsen users before you soak in the onsen. It is an etiquette to bathe in front of all other users so that they know you are clean before you enter the bath. You cannot take a private shower inside your hotel room then jump into onsen hot spring here. You get scolded even you told them you have already taken a shower inside your hotel room because they did not see that.
3. Sit on the short stool provided and shower till clean. Do not stand as you will splash the water to the next door. All type of soaps and shampoo are provided.
4. Soak in the indoor onsen first as it is not that cold. Once your body get warmer, walk out for the outdoor onsen. People usually walk in and out several times.The outdoor onsen provide more fresh air and nice view of Matsuyama city.
Night view of the outdoor onsen
5. There is a sauna room too, so go in to sauna room naked too.
6. When your body get too hot, stand up and rinse with cold water, usually at the entrance there is a small pond fill with cold water.
7. Do not sock over 30 mins, 10-20 mins. Usually there are several onsen pools so try different one by walking in and walk out, that way your body don’t get too hot. Soaking too long is dangerous and can cost death.
8. After finish soaking, your body feel pretty warm. Rinse lightly with shower head as you don’t want to wash away all the good minerals from the onsen water.
There are free toiletries at the make up room, such as cleanser, toner, moisturiser and lotion. I think this is a good way to let the toiletries company to promote their products. You can also buy these products at the souvenirs shop in the hotel if you like them.
9. Remember to drink water after bath as your body get dehydrated after onsen bath. Water dispenser is usually located at the make up room.
10. Avoid peak hour if you are a shy person. Peak hour usually start from 8.00 pm to 11 pm.
11. No tattoo for onsen. Most onsen hot spring do no welcome people with body tattoo.
Japanese Breakfast Review
There is a wide range of Japanese breakfast and some western such as sausage & bacon & chips for you to choose from.
Pick up the raw fish from the smorgasbord then sun-dried in at your table.
Himono 干物 / Sun Dried Fish
Himono mean any kind of dried food, not only restricted to fish only. It is usually dried or semi-dried fish. Himono are often eaten for breakfast at traditional ryokan inns.
Japanese Okura/ Lady Fingers with Grated Yamaimo / Huai San
This is one of the interesting dish in Japan. The Japanese Okura is cut into very thin slice then grated yamaimo are added in. Japanese believe to eat this first thing in the morning for digestion and easy to go toilet.
Tsukemono / Japanese pickles
I love my hot fat Japanese rice eaten with these Japanese pickles such as kombu / seaweed & yellow daikon/ radish. However, I still not a fan of umeboshi/sour red plum, it is so salty even blind man will open his eyes.
The brown paste is sweet and salty miso paste for eating together with rice, not for soup.
Natto / Fermented Bean
When I first see the natto in Japan many years ago, still a student then, I almost vomited but now I love it. The natto is one of main dish for Japanese breakfast. You can eat with rice.
Japanese Curry Rice
Japanese curry rice can be found in most of the breakfast menu in Japan nowadays. I guess it is easy to make and both adult and children love it. The Japanese curry is different from our curry. Japanese version of curry is sweet and more starchy. I really love it as it is so appetizing.
Onsen Tamago / Hotspring Egg
Onsen tamago is the traditional Japanese low temperature egg which is originally slow cooked in the water of onsen hot springs. Super yummy as the egg white tastes like a delicate custard, both milky and soft and the yolks comes out firm but still remain the color and creamy texture of an uncooked yolk. Usually serve with the “dashi” clearer broth.
Best Seller Cake in this Hotel
You can also purchase this cake in the wheel shape in the souvenirs shop here at JPY 1280 (USD 11.25). It hit 100k pieces of sales.
Hotel Shuttle Bus
There is a free shuttle bus that bring you to Dogo Onsen and the station every 15 mins.
Parking is free, just informed the reception when you do your check in.
Final thoughts :
Yukai Resort Dogo Saichoraku is Japanese style ryokan inn with onsen hot spring resort. You have the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle such as sleeping on the futon /Japanese bed on the tatami mat floor. You will also see Japanese paper sliding door with wood frame in your room. Japanese onsen bath is one thing you need to try but do watch out for the etiquette. Another thing worth mention here is you are able to experience most of the Japanese authentic dish in the dinner and breakfast.
The price including dinner is very affordable to the public. Click on the Yukai link to check out the price including dinner or without.