A mere mention of the name "Kagaya" to a Japanese person will initiate a reaction of knowing awe. This long-standing establishment has consistently held the accolade of being the nation's number one Japanese inn for over 30 years. The institution of Kagaya has been catering to hot spring travellers for over 100 years, while the hot spring area of Wakura Onsen is said to have been drawing worshippers of the long hot Japanese bath for around 1,200 years. Situated by Nanao Bay on the Noto peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kagaya encapsulates the refined opulence and grandeur of art and craftsmanship that the area has been historically renowned for.
Located a mere 7-minute walk from its sister establishment Kagaya Ryokan, Aenokaze is a part of the Kagaya Group; providing the high quality of service and hospitality of its older sister, while offering rooms at slightly more affordable rates. That being said, Aenokaze is not a complete reproduction of its sibling, instead exhibiting its own personality and unique charisma.
The Kanazawa Chaya ryokan appears to be heavily influenced by this tradition of art and good taste that pervades the town in which it can be found. A facade of dark wooden lattice, a tile-roofed porch with white noren hanging from it, and bamboo growing neatly in front of the windows; this small, compact and stylish city ryokan can be reached on foot easily in roughly 3 minutes from the East Exit of Kanazawa Station. Despite its urban setting, the traditional Japanese inn provides a small oasis of calm for the weary traveller making the pilgrimage to Kanazawa in search of cultural and artistic stimuli.
I arrived late at Matsuya-Sensen ryokan in Awara Onsen, Fukui Prefecture. Despite how late I was arriving, the staff were ready and waiting with friendly smiles. Fukui Prefecture is said to be voted the number one happiest prefecture in Japan. A combination of wonderful scenery, relaxed commutes, tasty food and brilliant sake make it an extremely attractive prospect in comparison to Tokyo's cramped and hectic lifestyle.