Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Hanzuryo Ryokan: Unzen Town, Nagasaki Prefecture

There is absolutely no doubt that this is the creme de la creme of hotel lodging in Nagasaki and debatably the entire region of Japan. Hanzuryo Ryokan is a traditional 5 star establishment located in the Unzen Amakusa National Park, that prides itself of providing a private, nature infused, gourmet inspired, luxury stay for those who wish to experience the full Omotenashi (hospitality) style of Japan as its absolute best.

Every thing about the stay was incredibly special and in some ways nearly perfect in every regard.  Not only were the rooms elegant and spacious (which is very rare in Japan) but the attention to detail in every aspect was some thing that one will never forget for the rest of their life.  It is indeed a once in a lifetime experience that should go down in everyone's bucket list of things to do in Japan.

There is nothing about the experience that I could fault even if I was trying to! From checkin to checkout, everything was delivered to precision which is what Japanese Hospitality is all about.  Trying to maintain 100% perfecting and delivering satisfaction levels that are far and beyond what any service provider could attain from a western standpoint.

If I was to fault anything, it would be the lack of English both from a spoken and written point of view.  For myself personally this isn't a problem but I can see where this may be an issue for some people and I would hope that with an increase in western travelers of the next few years, this establishment would be able to make a menu in English to describe in detail exactly what is being eaten and how to use the hot springs without making a faux pas. 

As for the cuisine, what can I say, I was probably the greatest single meal of my life!  The gourmet experience went on for at least 2 hours with at least 10 courses in total.  This is of course what top rate Ryokan's attain to provide in their offerings, a complete Kaiseki (highest level of Japanese dining)  experience.  Not only was the food absolutely divine but the ladies in kimono's moving gracefully in and out of the scene, as not to disturb the dining experience of the customers, combined with the various plates used for display, made this feel more like a scene from a movie.

Alcohol may accompany the meal if you so wish (not part of the price) and on this occasion our party went for Japanese rice wine.  It is felt that Japanese sake is a drink that is well paired with Japanese traditional foods and I must admit I fully believe this to be the case.  Beer and wine just doesn't seem to gel with the foods available and I would recommend that sake be chosen if alcohol is desired.

As for the hot springs, there are public but also private options as well.  I took advantage of both options but feel that not all western customers would feel comfortable with only a public bathing system. Again, there is nothing I could fault with the overall experience.  You will just have to try for yourself to see whether this is the best hotel experience that you could hope for.

Please click on this link to see Hanzuryo on a map:

Please click on the picture below to enlarge:

Dining room

Public Onsen


7th course?

Plenty of nature to enjoy

Another course

Japanese Sake

Simple but beautiful interiors

Incredible plates

Private bath

Outdoor bath

Relaxing room

First course

Soup dish

Public reading room

Perfect display

Driveway entrance


Nature designs

Japanese Gardens at night

Public showers

The food was divine


Interior set up

The menu

Fit for a KING

Complimentary drinks after your bath

A very happy camper

Please click on these video's below to see Hanzuryo Ryokan in more detail:

Friday, February 10, 2023

Hakata Port Tower: Fukuoka City

The Hakata Port Tower is a place that I had been intending to visit for a very long time. However, the first time I tried to making a booking (not necessary now) at the premises I was told that it was closing because of Corona anti measures in mid 2020.  Fast forward to present day where most if not all sightseeing attractions have reopened back up to the public, the Hakata Port Tower stands out as a beacon of hope that the worst has come and gone and that life and travel are basically back to normal pre-pandemic levels.

Conveniently located in the Bayside district of the Hakata Port complex it is walking distance from Hakata Station and Tenjin the 2 most popular downtown areas of Fukuoka.  The Hakata Port Tower is also only 2kms from the Fukuoka International Cruise Terminal and this stop has become a regular last attraction site on our Full Day Shore Excursions.  It's a wonderful last photo and memory of the day before returning to your cruise to sail off to the next exotic locations.

The Tower itself has an observatory floor some 70m above sea level.  It gives you 360 degree panoramic views of the port and the cityscape with the ability to see many outlying islands within reach of the Fukuoka inner circle.  It is well signposted with a lot of information being available on the observation deck but also the maritime museum on the 1st floor for those who have a great interest in the subject.  In regards to my interests of the location it is without a doubt the view and scenery that fascinates me.  On this day it was a little cloudy/ hazy but overall the weather was behaving itself.  I stayed for approx.20 minutes searching and checking out all the sites available to me.

I will indeed make this a big part of my walking tours of Fukuoka as well as our full day shore excursions of the city and the outlying areas.

I am sure everyone will agree that it a great 1st or last attraction of the day.

Please click on this link to the see the Hakata Port Tower on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

The Museum was bright and educational

Birdseye Map

City view

History of the place

A symbol of Hakata

Port View

A nice place to take a stroll

Great from every angle

Please click on the videos below to get a better views of the Hakata Port Observation deck: