This ryokan (Japanese-styled inn) was one of, if not the, best accommodation we had in this trip. Initially, I was a bit turned off by the price of a 1 night stay ($380 for 2 people) which was the second most expensive accommodation in this trip. However, do note that this price includes BOTH dinner and breakfast and it turns out to be quite reasonable after all.
FYI: Hotel Kifu Club Shiretoko (likely to be a family business) only has 15 rooms so do book early to avoid disappointment!
Well, the good tripadvisor reviews and the beautiful sunset and bear-strolling-outside-the-hotel photo bought us over. Sadly, the rainy and cloudy weather did not bring us any luck in witnessing a beautiful sunset nor spotting a trespassing bear. Nevertheless, it was still a memorable stay.
According to the booking rules, we had to check-in before 6PM (drove like crazy for the 2.5 hours long and winding “cliff” drive from Lake Akan) to be in time for dinner. Knowing that we would be late, we called the hotel (thankfully someone spoke English) to inform them. After checking-in, the staff arranged for our dinner to be served at 19:00. *Phew*
Each room was also allowed to book one hour of outdoor private onsen.
Exterior of the ryokan:
We had a small and cosy room on the 1st floor. Our tatami mattresses will be set up when we have our dinner later.
Initially, we thought that dinner will be served in our rooms (imagine Japan Hour) but it was served at their dining area. I was really excited to find out that our dinner was DIY tempura! Apart from the simple english explanation the staff gave us, it also comes with a full description (see below) of the procedures and dishes served.
It was 8 sticks of tempura each, 1 ultra huge snail, 1 Sashimi platter, 5 side dishes + drink, Choice of grilled seafood (Salmon/Squid), Dessert of the day.
I love the tempura pot so much that I’ve been trying (and still trying) to buy something similar.
8 sticks of Tempura: Asparagus, Cheese (really awesome), Pumpkin, Eggplant, Yam (if I don’t recall wrongly), Mushroom, Scallop, Chicken.
It was a pot of boiling oil, made possible by buring solid fuel.
After you are done with the right crispiness, you can place it (all except the cheese) on the side to cool down and let the oil drip back into the pot.
Escargot aka Snail. I’ve never eaten such a big piece before D: It tastes quite rubbery and I spent quite some time trying to chew.
And then we tried to be funny – snail tempura prepared by a MasterChef.
Sashimi Platter – love the Amaebi (Sweet Shrimps)
Choice of Seafood – Salmon or Sotong (Squid).
We bought the Shiretoko Wine which came in a bottle with a beautiful sticker. Fanciful looking but taste was really really low grade :/ Let’s just stick to Sake in Japan..
In the background of this photo, yes it’s a lady dining alone, having one tempura pot all by herself. There was another guy in the dining room eating alone too. I honestly don’t think that anyone could be having a business trip in this area. I’m always fascinated to find out why people travel alone, maybe one day i’ll be sharing my side of the story too.
Dessert of the day – grape ice sorbet; nothing fanciful but delicious.
The private outdoor onsen is situated about 100m walk away from the entrance. You will be given a key and a small lamp and the staff will guide you there. Inside the area, there’s a shower area and a wooden tub for soaking. It is a sheltered outdoor environment so you don’t have to worry about the drizzle/rain.
Morning run was a failure again as we slept late the night before. Sadly, the ideal sunrise we were hoping for did not occur as it was a cloudy day. Neither did we chance upon any bears.
Breakfast came beautifully plated as well. Their salad was tasty (with the yuzu salad sauce)
There was a small gift shop upstairs where you can purchase some leather souvenirs.
If we had time, I guess sitting outside the hotel and chilling around facing the sea with a cup of hot coffee/chocolate will feel amazing. Sadly, we had to rush for our Shiretoko Five Lakes Tour.
Real fireplace (I saw a chimney from outside) which will be functional during winter.
It was hard to say goodbye and i seriously didn’t mind staying an extra night as it was such a peaceful and serene place. Unfortunately, our itinerary couldn’t accommodate it and we only had that one morning to explore Shiretoko.
Well, if you could afford the time, do allow at least 2 days for Shiretoko. It has a lot more to offer apart from the Shiretoko Five Lakes (next entry).