Built about 20 years ago, Gora Kadan is one of Japan's finest contemporary ryokan. It is located in the wooded hills of Hakone, in the little hot springs town of Gora and surprisingly close to Tokyo. I recently spent two impeccable nights there. It was the perfect combination of Japanese aesthetics, cuisine, comfort, hot springs relaxation and extraordinary Japanese attention to every detail.
We were greeted by the kimono-clad ryokan owner when we arrived and were escorted to our rooms by our butler, who was dressed in kimono and hakama trousers. The butler was polished and polite, yet warm and welcoming. He explained to us about the baths, the meals and the spa facilities and served us a wonderful cup of tea with sweets.
The lobby and public areas of the ryokan are as spacious and dramatic as the private spaces are warm and intimate. The dinner that night, as described in yesterday's posting below, as well as all of the meals to follow, was brilliant. Of all of the many courses served during our breakfasts and dinners there, we never saw the same type of pottery twice. Though we spent much of the day sightseeing in Hakone, our minds were always on the ryokan, so we cut our plans short and returned in early afternoon for bathing, photo- taking and simply being in this very special place. Forget this being a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I definitely plan to return to Gora Kadan.
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