Travel Japan: A Luxury Stay on the Shima Peninsula

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A secluded onsen ryokan located on a hill overlooking Ago Bay, Basaratei is one of the most luxurious accommodations in the scenic area of Ise-Shima and makes for a delightful weekend getaway from the hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo.

It took us more than four hours to arrive at our destination from the capital, though the time flew by as we traveled in comfort on the Shinkansen and then from Nagoya on the charming Kintetsu line. At Kashikojima Station a car was waiting to take us to Basaratei where we were greeted by the general manager who showed us around the place.

Hot Spring Baths

The complex has three private chartered hot spring baths, the most impressive of which is Ten no Kagami (Mirror of Heaven). One hundred square meters, it looks more like a lavish pool than an onsen and is a great place to enjoy panoramic views of the bay. There’s also Toki no Ie Aoi (House of Time), a delightful octagonal lounge where guests can unwind in a stylish environment featuring books, DVDs and refreshments. Another serene place to relax (if it’s warm enough) is the terrace, which is lit up with candles at night.

Once the tour had finished, it was time for a look at our room for the night. Named Akari no Tou (the Building of Light), it was a spacious 50 meter-square twin-type bedroom with Ryukyu-style tatami mats. The main feature, however, was the open-air bath looking out onto Ago Bay. Before going for dinner, there was just enough time for a little dip in the therapeutic water that is said to help the blood circulation and relieve pain.

Private Dining

Dinner, served in a private room on the first floor, was a heavenly multi-course meal featuring the freshest island vegetables, sumptuous sashimi, some amazing pollock roe with sesame tofu, amberjack, and a delightful fruit-based dessert. The highlight, though, was the Matsuzaka beef that had a melt-in-your-mouth like quality, washed down with a glass or two of red wine.

If that wasn’t relaxing enough, it was then time for a massage at Aranya Spa, located in a separate building within the property. There are a variety of options available. We went for a full-body treatment using medical-grade oil: 90 minutes of true bliss followed by a deep sleep and then another feast for breakfast including konjac nabe and octopus.

Local Sights

After breakfast and some more time in the hot spring bath, it was time for a tour of the region starting at Yokoyama Tembodai (observatory deck) which boasts a magnificent view of Ago Bay’s approximately 64 islands and numerous pearl boats. The stunning view was the setting for a famous picture featuring several political leaders including Barack Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel when they were in town for the 42nd G7 Summit in 2016.

During our trip there was also a chance to visit several shrines with Ise Jingu (Grand Shrine) being the most well-known. Regarded as one of the holiest and most important sites in the country, it is usually crowded as proved to be the case when we were there. For a quieter and slightly off-the-beaten track experience, Izawanomiya Shrine, that has a 700-year-old tree, and Amano Iwato Shrine, which can be found in a scenic, mystical forest, are two fantastic locations away from large crowds.

The tour concluded with a sumptuous eel lunch and local craft beer at Ise Kadoya Microbrewery which is just a short walk from Ise Jingu on the lively ancient street of Okage Yokocho. It was a wonderful way to finish what was a short, yet memorable first stay in Ise. It won’t be the last.

Find details about Ryokan Basaratei on our Concierge listing.

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