Ninna-ji – Kyoto, Japan

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Ninna-ji
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Ninna-ji

(81)  75.461.1155

www.ninnaji.or.jp

Open Hours:
9:00-16:30    Daily

Ninna-ji was originally built in the year 886-888 by Emperors Kōkō  and Uda as the head temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.  However, none of the buildings from the temple’s foundation in the 9th century still survive.  The oldest buildings date back to the beginning of the Edo Period in the early 1600s.  The Kannon Hall, the Niomon front gate, the Chumon inner gate and the five storied pagoda are standouts among the temples..

Worth note is the Goten.  The former residence of the head priest, in the southwestern corner of the temple complex.    Here sliding doors (fusuma) provide a broad open view to the beautiful stones and pond.

If you are in season, look for the grove of locally Omuro Cherries!

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Kyozo
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Ninna-ji Bell Tower
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17th century, five-story pagoda
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Takefue Ryokan – Kyūshū, Japan

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photo © Takefue
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Takefue Ryokan

(81)  57.006.4559
5725 Manganji, Minamioguni, Aso District; Kumamoto Prefecture 869-2402, Japan

www.takefue.com

Open Hours to non guests:
8:30 – 21:00    Daily

There are no words to fully describe the beauty and magic of the Takefue Ryokan.   It is by far the most amazing place we have slept.  It is located up an isolated mountain, in Kyushu, just outside the amazing town of Kurokawa Onsen, deep in a bamboo forest.

The hospitality is beyond anything expected – even in Japan.  A member of the staff is allocated as your sole contact throughout your stay.  They gently guide you, from choosing a yukata and coat, to designing and scheduling menus, to assisting your reservation of baths.  Without out going into overt detail; it is  beyond anything we’ve experienced -anywhere in the world.  The combination of service and planning creates the feeling that you are the only guest at the hotel.

 

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photo - Chikurin No Yu © Takefue
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Each room has a private onsen (hot spring bath).   There are several other larger baths that one can reserve.  Each of the magnificent shared  baths have a changing room complete with hot and cold drinks (including sake and beer) as well as an oven with warm towels. As one wanders the grounds, keep an eye out for random snacks, free of charge, placed throughout the  hotel paths: sodas, water, tea, even freezer with the most delicious ice-cream pops !

When it is time to eat, be prepared for a most exquisite and elaborate meals.  The cuisine is similar to other ryokan; with a large breakfast and a lovely Kaiseki dinner included.  Here it is the overall quality in preparation, presentation and flavour.

We have 3 small pieces of advice for booking:
1.  Try to stay at least 2 nights – with the check in/out times, there is really not enough time to really feel the entirety of Takefue Ryokan otherwise.
2. Have Takefue  be your last Onsen stay while in Kyushu.
3. If you are in Japan and traveling – GO to Kyushu – it is pure Japan!

 

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Dinner
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photo - Sayo guest room © Takefue
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photo - entry gate © Takefue
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Coffee station in our room with a stone coffee grinder
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Ahau Hotel – Tulum, Mexico

 

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Ahau Tulum

(52) 1  984 802 5387
Carr. Tulum a Boca Paila Km. 7.5, Zona Costera – Quintana Roo. CP 77760 , Mexico
 www.ahautulum.com

A successful blend between hippy, eco-chic, and family friendly, Ahau Tulum is a comfortable hotel  with the friendliest staff.  Nothing is a problem here, the atmosphere is is like you have always been a part of the family.

The beach day beds are comfortable and spaced well apart.  Simple, ample food and tasty juices are on call from the open air restaurant.  For the area, Ahau’s menu has a good range between comfort and healthy food, and is moderately priced.  Above the restaurant there is a large mezzanine, bathed in beautiful filtered natural light, where the yoga classes are held.

The Hotel’s lobby, next to the restaurant is a social hub in Tulum, a mix of residents, expats, guests from other hotels – all charging their mobile devices, surfing the web and picking up conversation.

They also offer – and I took – kite surfing classes.  Difficult, but rewarding!  Mauricio is a great teacher and a real good guy.

We won’t delve into their penitent for towel sculpture – just enjoy!

 

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