Saturday, February 27, 2016

Checking into Japan's best ryokan and about hanging great art in hotel rooms. Or about the hotel with no names.



So here's a funny story for you, in Japan tonight, living a #Travelife.

We're staying at one of the top two ryokan in Japan, and this is also my favorite ryokan. It's often said that Tawaraya in Kyoto is historically the best ryokan in Kansai area and this ryokan where I am in tonight is the best ryokan in Kanto region. Unfortunately I can't divulge the name until we check out.

Anyway, today we dropped the car off at the ryokan driveway where the porter took it off our hands and like clockwork the ryokan equivalent of chambermaids came out to take our bags and lead us in.

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DID WE CHECK-IN?

From the entrance, we literally did a leisurely stroll straight to our room at the very end of the property.

I don't usually handle either check-in or check-out arrangements at hotels, and I was so busy thinking about the artworks on display, so it never occurred to me to think about whether we'd actually checked in.

I just simply walked in.



But midway through a delicious dinner in our suite, many hours later, living a #Travelife, someone came into the room kneeling and said to Mr. Y: "Excuse me. But can you tell me your name?"

I'd been answering a Facebook message from a friend halfway around the world -- about the falling stock markets around the world, of all things -- when she'd said this. But when I heard this, I looked at Mr. Y in great surprise and said: "Didn't you check in?"

Mr. Y replied: "I can't remember."

Scroll down to read more about the hotel with no names...



NO NAMES. NO DETAILS.

And I couldn't remember either. But between both of us we eventually figured out that no one had asked our names or done any documentation since we set foot inside here.

I said: "I can't believe they let us in and fed us dinner without even getting our names. Are you sure we're even in the right room?"


MISSING SOME GREAT ARTWORKS

Even funnier was the fact that when we walked in, we'd asked about a missing artwork on one of the walls of this ryokan.

This artwork is by my favourite artist in Japan, a very well-known one. The owner of this ryokan is a great collector of his works and there's usually a statement piece of this contemporary artist in the entrance area.

When we'd asked about this missing piece, the attendant had said: "All the decor has been changed to welcome spring. But if you love the works of this artist, we can arrange something for you."

The best sashimi I've had in a long time.
Tonight at this ryokan, living a #Travelife...

REAL SERVICE AT A TOP RYOKAN.
EVEN WITHOUT KNOWING OUR NAMES.

And it's a mark of this truly great ryokan -- so understated and ever so tasteful, and so good at service -- that within fifteen minutes of our arrival and my one solitary question about this missing artwork, the very artwork hanging in our suite was very quietly changed to a beautiful work of this particular artist I like, from the personal collection of the owner.

Not a print or a lithograph, but an original piece.

REAL ART IN A HOTEL ROOM

It's hanging on the wall as I write this, and we reckon that this artwork is at least US$20,000 in value.

Now some art collectors may sniff at this value as modest as far as great artworks go, but this is the Japanese equivalent of a luxury hotel suite for the paying public, after all, and they'd just hung a US$20,000 artwork in this suite without even bothering to get our names.

In other words, just another interesting day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.  And this time, I should end this entry with the following hashtag: #lucky.

And if they still don't ask our names at check-out, or Mr. Y's credit card details for that matter, my next entry will end with this hashtag: #jackpot.


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