Lake Shinji Ryokan
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On a quiet corner of Lake Shinji is nestled  the small village of Sobara with its access to hot spring mineral waters. 

We checked into our hot spring Ryokan and took a soak in our own private hot spring tub. The architecture of the Ryokan was a beautiful balance of old and new style.

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 Our private bath. The bathing space was large and luxurious and included a daybed to unwind on.

Our private bath. The bathing space was large and luxurious and included a daybed to unwind on.

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There were also a number of small private baths for couples that you could book, overlooking the Japanese Garden, for an indulgent soak. The water is hot but it was a great relief in the snap of cold weather, particularly after returning from day trips where we encountered cold freezing rain. 

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 An after-dinner soak in the stone bath. 

An after-dinner soak in the stone bath. 

 We enjoyed an early morning soak in the cedar bath - perfect for the start of a cold day.   

We enjoyed an early morning soak in the cedar bath - perfect for the start of a cold day.   

 Lichens and plants growing on the trunk of a sakura

Lichens and plants growing on the trunk of a sakura

 A frog hops along the charcoal garden at night

A frog hops along the charcoal garden at night

 The garden features some dramatic charcoal logs and mossy patches

The garden features some dramatic charcoal logs and mossy patches

 Small yellow flowers growing in the Ryokan garden

Small yellow flowers growing in the Ryokan garden

The sequence of dishes greeting us on our first night at the Ryokan
 A dance of lanterns light up the Ryokan at night

A dance of lanterns light up the Ryokan at night

The ryokan provides a kaiseki style dinner each night and we were amazed at the presentation of some of the dishes if somewhat daunted by some of the more challenging items that were included, such as the little transparent fish eaten whole and sashimi style or the pungently flavoured mysterious conch shell creature. 

The next two dinners were equally fabulous in their sequence of dishes and and presentation styles.

After such a big dinner we were equally surprised by a large breakfast each morning where all the little dishes were brought out together. Breakfast was all together even more challenging as somethings are just too exotic for first thing in the morning so we picked more cautiously over all the selections to narrow it down to a breakfast we would still find enjoyment in. 

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On the final night dinner one of the dishes was presented with a beautiful sprig of tiny little white cherry blossoms. When we returned to our room I made the most of the tatami-mat study nook and painted some postcards based on one of the Tsuyama paintings and the sprig of delicate blossoms. 

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 The blossoms covered in early morning dew. 

The blossoms covered in early morning dew. 

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