May 4th, 2005, 01:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 54

I was planning on splurging on one night at Hiiragiya in June in Kyoto. I'm a bit concerned for the food though, which apparently is the bulk of the cost. I'm not an adventurous eater, and not even really a fan of most fish. Is staying here a mistake?

bpcbutterfly is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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They say they serve the finest Kaiseki ryori...which you could roughly translate to "a wide variety of carefully prepared, delicately seasoned, seasonal foods served in small portions." Kyoto Kaiseki is exclusive to Kyoto. Some of what you are served may be adventurous, some may be fish, but you can count on variety. You may be hungry after the meal, depending on your appetitie, as the portions are very small and the idea behind the Kaiseki is to leave the guest a bit hungry so they will want to come back for more.

Expenseive, yes. Worth it? Depends on you. If you study up on Kaiseki before your stay so you know what you are eating and how to eat it, you will be better prepared to appreciate it for what it is. If you have a Kaiseki meal without knowing anything about it, you will likely be disappointed.
KimJapan is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 55
I'm going to be staying there also. I don't know if you've already booked, but if you are afraid you won't like the food you could forgo the meals. When I was discussing the booking via email they said I could forgo breakfast and get 5% off and/or forgo dinner and get 20% off. He also asked me if there were any special dietary requests so you may be able to finagle not having fish. From what I can tell, it is central so you could go to other restaurants in the city if you wanted.

On the other hand...
I may be wrong, but I get the feeling food and presentation plays a big part of the experience at a ryokan. Otherwise you could stay at a regular hotel and have freedom to eat where/what you want without having to feel 'committed' so to speak.

For myself, I'll eat just about anything except I'm not big into breakfast so I went for the dinner only.
skyhopper is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 08:03 PM
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If you tell them you con't eat fish, they will most likely comply. The meals are large, despite the small plates. You will find plenty to fill you up. They will offer you a western breakfast as well.

Do it. You won't ever get a better opportunity to live the soul of Japan.
lcuy is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 10:20 PM
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lcuy;would that western breakfast include a natto omelette?
kuranosuke is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 10:30 PM
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Each Kaiseki chef has their own special dishes and I would not give up an opportunity to taste some of the most intricate & interestingly prepared food in the world, if I could afford it. I ate Kaiseki in my job, in Australia (on special occasions only) and I never failed to be impressed at the amazing presentation & quality of the food. It is a unique experience for sure!
Lyndie is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 10:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 263
I have eaten a dinner and a breakfast there. The dinner, while portions per COURSE is moderate (not small), there are SO MANY COURSEs, perhaps 10? I lost count. I highly doubt that unless you are a huge eater, you would go hungry.

You can ask for no fish. They are pretty flexible within reason, but they need to know in advance.

Unless you have eaten Kaiseki before, even the vegetables are something you probably have never eaten before.

Whether it is a mistake or not depends on what you expected to get out of this experience. I have stayed at many other Ryokans. While there are others with better views and comparative rooms, I have never seen food presentations and services like I experienced at Hiiragiya.

As for breakfast, would you have another chance to eat Japanese breakfast on tatami mat again? I don't know where you are from, but where I live, no Japanese restaurant serves breakfast. I have seen others eat western breakfasts at Ryokans. They never looked interesting.
nickn is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 10:53 PM
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kuranosuke- If they served it to me, I'd share it (ALL) with you!! I have eaten a spaghetti omelette though!

Oh, I am soooo hungry for a Kaiseki meal!
lcuy is offline  
May 15th, 2005, 06:36 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4
My son and daughter-in-law will be staying at a ryokan in Kyoto -- not the Hiiragiya, but near it in quality, I think. They have read that a gratuity (in a white envelope, in addition to the service charge) is customary. This is contrary to everything I remember about Japan, so I am asking your help. Is this the case at these high-end ryokans, and if so, what amount? We lived in Japan for five years, back in the seventies, but never ran into anything like this. Thanks for any help.
atn is offline  
May 15th, 2005, 10:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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As foreigners, you will not be expected to give a gratuity, but if you do it will be appreciated. Some Japanese customers no longer follow the practice...so it's up to you, really.

To tip properly in that situation, get an envolope from the store...tell the clerk it's for ryokan to check that it's appropriate.

Enclose about 10% gratuity. Give upon arrival to your room to your personal staff member.

There was another post about just this topic the other day. If you search for ryokan you'll surely find it.
KimJapan is offline  
May 15th, 2005, 11:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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When I stayed at the Hiiragiya we paid about US $1,300 a night(2 adults and 1 child) for the largest room they had. We tipped as per the method mentioned, cash in white envelope upon arrival etc, but we only gave 5,000 yen not the 10% as mentioned by KimJapan. We were treated very well for the 2 nights that we stayed there.
Hanuman is offline  
May 16th, 2005, 02:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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You will be treated very well regardless of what you give. As foreigners, giving anything at all is unexpected and very appreciated. The thing about the top class places is that the service will be excellent whether you tip on arrival, at departure, or not at all. Actually, the service is just simply excellent in Japan. I'm always shocked when I'm first back in the states and can't get service for any amount of tipping
KimJapan is offline  
May 16th, 2005, 02:29 AM
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Wrong face...I meant
KimJapan is offline  
May 17th, 2005, 03:31 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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Thank you so mujch! I want my daughter-in-law to enjoy her first experience in Japan so that she will begin to understand how important those five years were in all our lives. To bpcbutterfly: it will be the memory of the beauty and the strangeness that lives with you -- long after any particular food like or dislike. I still miss Japan very much.
atn is offline  

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