A Warm Welcome to Kaga Onsen
Not far away from the scenic centre of Kaga’s Yamashiro Onsen, with its small shops and the Ko-soyu bathhouse, right next to Yakuōin Temple and Hatori Shrine, is the perfect place to stay and enjoy the area’s hot springs and hospitality. Entering the well-established Tachibana Shikitei—a traditional Japanese inn, also known as a ryokan—one is greeted immediately by the friendly staff. The ryokan’s owners are among them, with a warm smile on their faces as they introduce their facilities. It already feels like a vacation.
From Enthusiastic Guest to Caring Host
As WADA Kaori, the landlady of the ryokan, guides us to the yukata, the traditional Japanese robes for bathing and leisure, she enthusiastically talks about herself and her relation to the ryokan. Before marrying into the family, she worked at a travel agency and loved going to hot spring resorts around Japan, especially because getting into the hot water melted her worries away and helped her escape her stressful everyday life. After being asked out several times by her now-husband, the owner of the ryokan, she gave both him and the family business a chance.
As she guides us through the beautiful rooms of the inn, her passion becomes more and more apparent as she points out how every little detail was carefully designed to be both practical and pleasing to the eye, offering guests the best hospitality possible. For example, she personally arranges the flowers around the inn. The more luxurious rooms have outdoor baths with stunning views of the nearby temple and shrine, as well as the distant mountains, but even the communal baths are attractive, with soothing water that is said to be rejuvenating. The communal baths are open almost 24 hours each day, so that weary travellers can enjoy a dip whenever they feel like it.
The Feeling of Home and Innovation in Hospitality
Not only are the baths almost always open, but check-out also ends late, at 11 AM. Also, as breakfast is served until 10 AM, guests can start their day off in a leisurely manner. Such policies make their stay more flexible and relaxed. According to WADA Kaori, they implemented these laid-back policies to make the guests feel more at home and give them more time to fully enjoy their stay. Even if the husband-and-wife team often argues over the kitchen table, this too becomes the birthplace of such new and unusual ideas, and their dynamic remains healthy and constructive. Speaking from her experience as both a guest and a host, WADA wanted to make the best out of the business, balancing the needs of the guests and the necessary routine of an inn. Catering to the guests with a warm smile and making their stay as smooth and relaxing as possible is Tachibana Shikitei’s highest priority.
When staying at the ryokan you are also served a fresh bowl of matcha green tea and a seasonal sweet from a local traditional sweet store. At the lounge, yuzu sorbet is served free of charge and local musicians perform almost every night, entertaining the guests after a day of sightseeing and exploration in town.
The WADAs’ warm smile and bright attitude makes the stay even more pleasant. When asked what the ideal of omotenashi, the Japanese form of hospitality, is to her, WADA answered that above all she wants to help the guests feel refreshed and healed, and take their minds off their daily struggles. An attitude one can feel in every corner of Tachibana Shikitei.