Matsuya Ryokan - losing our ryokan virginity!

Okay, so, despite being complete japanophiles, and having visited Japan multiple times we hadn't yet stayed in a ryokan so we decided it was about time we did something about this.

So for this reason, we made it our mission to do at least one ryokan stay as part of our road trip to experience Japan outside of the major cities. We picked Matsuya Ryokan in Nagano as our ryokan of choice because of it's prime location, authenticity and it just about falling into our budget!

Although we had a really good sat nav the place was a bit difficult to locate as a lot of the streets in Nagano are one way cobbled paths that look like pedestrianised areas. So we had to do a couple of laps before being confident that we were in the right place. Once located though the couple who run the place were quick to show us where the free parking was - literally a minutes walk away!

The building is super pretty both inside and out and is a truly authentic ryokan.

Check in was very smooth and we were shown where the baths were, which was very useful as the hotel is a bit of a maze! We’d booked room only, although breakfast and dinner options are available and it's actually the done thing to eat in at ryokans. But we were here to experience all that Nagano had to offer and only had the one night to do this!

Our room was Japanese style with tatami mats and futons, but it also had a tv, wifi, air-con and it’s own private bathroom. Other rooms are available for lower prices if you're happy to use the shared bathrooms though. Delicious tea was made ready for us in our room upon arrival and this was also refreshed for when we returned around 10pm after an evening out in town. This was the entrance to the room, the slippers are provided when you enter the hotel and you leave your shoes in the lobby:

The table made up for relaxing in the daytime:

The staff transform the room whilst you're out:

Hotel art:

The location was really good, it was right next to Zenko-ji temple, and within walking distance of the main streets and station. The restaurants and shops next to the ryokan closed early (around 5pm) but we walked towards the station in the evening and there were plenty of places open until late. Here are some pictures we took in the evening:

We didn't take advantage of the baths because we didn't really have time and are a bit too prudish! We also didn't wear the yukata, other than when sleeping, as we weren't really in the ryokan for long enough to warrant doing so!

We've stayed in one other ryokan since, and would still rate this one as a great ryokan experience!