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Dinnertime brings kaiseki cuisine right to your room

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Dinnertime brings kaiseki cuisine right to your room

Dinner of autumn-season specialties includes an eggplant dish. Comfortable futon and a good book make a restful evening.

While Warner and Birtles were quenching their thirst with beer after their bath, a maid came to confirm what time they wanted dinner.

The evening meal at Sharatei is served in the kaiseki style (a type of Japanese haute cuisine originated as part of the tea ceremony). When she explained that it would consist of 14 different kinds of dishes starting with an aperitif and appetizer, Birtles seemed to be a little surprised, and asked her again if there were really 14 dishes.

Looking at the dishes brought to their room one after another, he commented on how attractive Japanese cuisine is to the eye. Touching a piece of unfamiliar food such as sashimi (sliced raw fish) with his chopsticks, however, his expression changed and he gave a hint of hesitation.

Warner, who is a connoisseur of Japanese cuisine and enjoys anything except sticky items such as grated yam or natto (fermented soybeans), cut in to explain that, "Actually, my friend lan's most favorite food is grilled beef."

Warner and Birtles moved on to drinking sake and enjoyed their meal to the fullest. After dinner, they went to the private open-air bath again.

When they returned to their quarters they found two sets of futon spread out in the next room. From the preparation of cuisine to the arrangement of bedding, the service was impeccable in every way.

"Since I had already read many books on Japan, I knew vaguely what a ryokan was like," Birtles said. "However, Sharatei was definitely more than I had expected."

Having experienced a hot-spring ryokan for the first time, he described the difference between a ryokan and a hotel: "I have traveled all over the world on business, but no matter where I go, London, Paris, New York, once I go into my hotel the room is virtually the same everywhere. The Japanese hot-spring ryokan, however, is completely different from everything else. When you step inside, a world totally different from the outside unfolds. The sublime Japanese atmosphere wafts through the air. Japan should definitely advertise to people all over the world that it has wonderful accommodations like this ryokan." When Birtles said he would like to come back with his wife, Warner nodded agreement. "Of course you would. Whether in Britain or Japan, a trip shared by two men alone sounds terrible!"

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