review

Review: Ryokan Ichinomatsu 一乃松 in Hakodate

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One of the greatest experiences to enjoy in winter Hokkaido is to have a ryokan stay. We were in Hokkaido for 10 days, and travelled to Sapporo, Otaru, Niseko and Hakodate.

We searched for a ryokan while trip- planning and found that Hakodate has the most selection of ryokans, and decided on Ryokan Ichinomatsu 一乃松 in Hakodate.

I was glad we made the right choice to stay there! It is the best accommodation I’ve had throughout my 1 month trip to Japan.

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Ryokan Ichinomatsu

Traditional Japanese Hospitality

Upon entering the ryokan, I didn’t know what to expect as it was my first time staying in one! We were brought to our room by a lady staff who seemed to be assigned to our room service, as she was always the one who served us our meals throughout our stay.

She served us green tea and a piece of Yōkan, which is a traditional Japanese dessert.

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The first thing we did after checking out our room was to go for a dip in the onsen. Funny thing was, when we walked across the main reception area to the onsen rooms, all the lady staff, dressed in traditional yukata were kneeled on the tatami, bowed and greeted us. I supposed they were all waiting to receive their guests for the day as well. We got a little shy as we didn’t expect such courtesy. I think they noticed it and giggled at us too. Haha.

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Reception area. Perfect for chilling out after onsen

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Intricate birds embroidery on the tatami floor! Apparently they change it according to the season.

Room Rates and Facilities

We stayed in a Japanese- style tatami room with breakfast and dinner included. For 2 nights, it cost a total of JPY 28 583 (SGD 349), which is very value for money. The rate was also very competitive and based on the reviews online, we found it to be a good choice.

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Each room has a unique name. Ours is 白樺の間 which means ‘Between the white birch’

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The dining area, which converts into our bedroom at night.

The room has standard facilities such as refrigerator, flat screen TV, high- speed wifi, bathtub, shower, toilet,  a seating and dresser area.

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They also provide skin and haircare products by Shiseido, which I really love. The same toiletries are available at the onsen dressing rooms, perfect for moisturising the hair after a dip in the mineral salt water.

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Each guest is also provided with a nice traditional yukata (which comes in 3 sizes for your preference) for wearing within the ryokan. Wearing a yukata is supposed to make it easy to get in and out of the in- house onsen at anytime of the day.

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Our room also faces a kyoto- style garden, and I really love looking at it at our room’s seating area. Best with a cup of hot green tea in hand 🙂

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Clean and Authentic Onsen Experience

I love the onsen within the ryokan as it felt rather private i.e not very crowded even during peak hours such as before dinner and breakfast hours. There’s an indoor and outdoor bath. Although the area is not very big, it felt just right and quite cosy.

The shower area also provides good quality toiletries from Shiseido (face wash, soap, shampoo and conditioner).

Delicious, High Quality Japanese Meals – Dinner & Breakfast

This was something I looked forward to the most, and because I could not find lots of pictures or reviews online, my expectations weren’t very high, especially because we didn’t pay a very high price like the other ryokans.

However, I was so, so amazed and surprised by the AMOUNT and QUANLITY of food served.

It was shockingly good, and I think the best dining experience I have ever had thus far.

We timed our onsen dip about 1 hour before dinner. So after relaxing a bit in the room, the lady staff served us our dinner.

However, please note to have your dinner at an earlier serving time, such as 6pm or 6.30pm, so that you can enjoy your food slowly. We had ours at 7pm, and were told to finish it at 8.30pm (We had to ask for a 15 mins extensions, politely!). I remember I had to finish my best and last dish, the hairy crab, at almost lightning speed!

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Amazing dinner after soaking in an onsen. This is an ultimate treat!

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Uni with meatballs and vegetables in broth. This was so good.

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I believe these are meant to be starters! Tofu, prawn, plum with jelly, konbu and salmon sushi.

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Roast beef with salad

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Hairy crab!

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Hakodate is famous for squid, so we were so excited to try it here. They put gold on it! Pure indulgence.

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Sashimi platter!

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This is the best chawanmushi I’ve ever had in my life.

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Ocra with fishcake and tofu.

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Fried fish, crisp to perfection! I ate everything including the bones. Delicious.

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Dessert was a light and delicious orange pudding.

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Breakfast spread the next morning!

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Simple and warm tofu in plain water, served traditional style.

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Ume and some pickles

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Hijiki, my favourite Japanese cold dish for breakfast.

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This is Kazunoko (Herring Roe) 数の子 , apparently it is expensive and the Japanese eat it on special occasions. It was divine.

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Mentaiko. I’ve never had it like that before, and it was surprisingly delicious.

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Hakodate’s signature once again, the legendary Ika sashimi.

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Seaweed, to go with rice on top!

Places to visit around Ryokan Ichinomatsu

While the surrounding area is rather quiet, there are actually 3 places to visit while staying at Ichinomatsu Inn, which makes it perfect for a short stay.

1. Hakodate Trappistine Convent

A historical Catholic convent built in 1927, the building is rather picturesque, but do note visitors are not allowed to enter the premises, only the visitor museum/shop is permitted for entry.

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2. Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden / Snow Monkey Onsen

This is located in the Yunokawa Hot Springs area, and is home to about 100 snow monkeys. I love watching their behaviour and how they interact among each other!

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3. Yukura Shrine

This is a beautiful 360 year- old shrine and it wasn’t crowded when we were there, unlike Senso-ji in Asakusa.

Bonus: How many nights to stay in a Ryokan?

I would recommend going for a full board stay (accommodation with breakfast and dinner) for 1 night, as I personally felt that it is enough to enjoy the experience. Especially so as the prices are generally on the high side as compared to a standard hotel.   In addition, I feel that our stomachs could not handle the quantity served as each meal, although they are of very high quality.

After comparing rates on similar hotel booking sites, we found Agoda to have the the most complete list of ryokans, with pretty good rates!

Are you excited to have a relaxing stay at a traditional ryokan too? Book now on Agoda.com!

I can’t wait to be back!

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