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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Gettouan ゆふいん月燈庵

Stayed 22.03.2014
Booked thru' Booking.com
- Standard suite = 54,000 yen (2 occupants)


As with every trip, I will try to arrange one day of luxurious accommodation. For this trip in Kyushu, it was Gettouan in Yufuin. As Yufuin is a hot spring town, numerous hotels and ryokan can be found around the main onsen street leading all the way to Kirinko. Decided to stay away from the heart of the town and chose to stay in the Gettouan, which is tucked away in a tranquil and remote environment. After spending an entire afternoon to explore Yufuin, we were looking forward a good night rest in Gettouan. For guests staying in the ryokan, complimentary pick up service to/fro Yufuin JR Station can be arranged in advance. Unfortunately, we had to grab a taxi as the pick up was fully booked for that day.

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Highlights:


Bottom left: Suspension bridge that links the main building and accommodation.
Service, room & facilities. First we were led to the bar counter where tea was served as we waited for check-in proceedings to be completed. A mandarin speaking staff was assigned to us, who inquired our desired timing for both dinner and breakfast on the next day and explained to us the facilities in Gettouan as he brought us to our room. The entire compound is actually much more bigger than it looks. In total, there are only 18 units within this 10,000 m3 site surrounded by lush greenery. From the main building, we had to cross a suspension bridge to reach the other highland where the rooms are located. Though the area may be huge, clear signs are put up to make sure guests do not lose their way here.

Bottom left: Communal bathhouse; Center: Private outdoor bath; Bottom right: Common area to enjoy complimentary coffee.
Reserved the standard suites (Yamabuki and Tsubaki) for tonight's stay. House is divided into two separate areas with 8 and 6 tatami mats respectively, and can occupy up to 4 person. Was delighted to see a kotatsu, a low table with heater beneath, which we tucked our legs into comfortably when the temperatures became colder at night. Every room in Gettouan is also equipped with an open air hot spring bath. Used it only once because temperature was less than 5 degC and the washing area was located outdoor as well - already felt terribly cold after washing up.

There is a common area where guests can relax to smoothing music, read a book while enjoying a cup of coffee - a good place to hang out after enjoying the bath. Night may be still young for some - Bar Ripe is located in the main building for guests to enjoy a glass of cocktail before heading to bed. My sister and I braved the cold weather at night to cross the bridge to explore the bar and ended up having a glass of mocktail here (just for the sake of sitting around in the bar)! 

Sunset.
Hot springs with a view. There are two communal bathhouses separated by gender. Hot spring source is mildly alkaline and temperature here has been adjusted to 42 degC. Each bathhouse has an indoor and outdoor section. Highly recommend the outdoor section because the size of the pool is much larger and a spectacular view of Mt Yufu awaits here. Came here for a soak before dinner and I was mesmerised by a brightly lit Mt Yufu during sunset.

Sunrise.
Food splendor. Both meals were served in a private room in Keisuikyo (溪酔居), a separate building located in between the luxurious and standard suites.

Left: Beautiful tableware arrangement; Right: Fresh sashimi and Bungo beef as appetisier.
Yuzu was featured in many of the dishes in their spring edition kaiseki dinner menu. As usual the meal kicked off with a small glass of wine. This time round, a milky looking nigori zake (濁り酒), an unfiltered type of sake, was served. Appetiser was Oita's Bungo beef (豊後牛) and seasonal vegetables, accompanied with a refreshing sauce. Next was a bowl of sakura flavoured sumashijiru (a clear broth cooked with kombu and bonito flakes) with a minced prawn and fish meat ball - love the subtle yet flavourful broth. Enjoyed the fresh sashimi which has a tint of citrus taste as it was placed onto a slice of yuzu fruit.

Left: Sakura flavoured Sumashijiru; Middle: Marbled Bungo beef cooked on hot stone. Right: Pheasant hot pot.
It was also my first time eating a pheasant hot pot (nabe) - tasted like chicken meat to me and the soup has wonderfully extracted the sweet flavours of the pheasant meat and vegetables. Marveled at the sizzling cubes of marbled Bungo beef cooked on hot stone. Was truly yearning for more meat - juicy cubes of grilled meat melting in the mouth! Had a scoop of yuzu sorbet to cleanse the palate before the last rice dish was served. Completely different from previous kaiseki, we had sansai (wild vegetables) and rice dumplings wrapped in leaves which came with an eggy gravy to dip into. The entire dinner was wrapped up with a cheese cake drizzled with a yuzu flavoured sauce.

Bottom right: The glass of mocktail we had in Bar Ripe.
Have to applaud for the chef behind this sumptuous and delicious dinner course! Throughout the entire meal, I was also impressed by the table setting and exquisite tableware used - such as the tree slice with well defined growth rings which was used as the presentation plate. Had an equally pleasant breakfast as well on the following day.

Breakfast.
Conclusion. If I have to nitpick or compare Gettouan to another luxurious accommodation I have stayed before (such as Sanyoan in Hokkaido), I felt that the staff could have been more "attentive" at times. To quote an example: the sliding door could have been closed more gently when the waitress was moving in and out of the private dinning area. Overall stay in Gettouan has been pleasant - fully immersed myself in the serenity of the natural atmosphere and have high acclamation for their food creations.

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Gettouan ゆふいん月燈庵
879-5102 大分県由布市湯布院町川上295-2 
http://www.gettouan.com/en/

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