***This is part 6 of my “Fat and Furious” trip report detailing a recent trip to Japan which included stops in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Matsuyama***
2. Star Alliance First Class Lounge at LAX
3. Singapore Airlines Suites Class Los Angeles to Tokyo
4. Conrad Tokyo
5. Eating Tokyo Part 1 – Department Store Hopping in Ginza
6. Funaya Ryokan In Matsuyama
7. Living The Onsen Life In Matsuyama
8. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
9. Eating Kyoto – The Search for Matcha and Geisha
10. Kaiseki Dinner at 3-Michelin Star Kikunoi Honten
11. The Peninsula Tokyo
12. Eating Tokyo Part 2 – Maids, Robots, and Cosplay
13. Eating Tokyo Part 3 – Cherry Blossoms and THE BEST STEAK EVER
14. ANA Business Class Lounge at NRT
15. ANA Business Class Tokyo to San Jose
Since we’d be staying in Western hotel chains elsewhere else, in Matsuyama we figured that it would be a great chance to try a ryokan, or Japanese guest house.
My 4 years of high school Japanese language studies paid off since I could read the hotel sign which was only written in Japanese. If it weren’t for these skills, we may have never found the hotel.
OK that may be a stretch, since Google Maps also announced that “you have arrived at Funaya” as we walked up to the building.
Funaya has a mix of room types, and we purposely booked a hybrid Western/Japanese room since I had read many general ryokan reviews complaining about how uncomfortable it was to sleep on the tatami mats. So the beds would be a nice backup in case my back didn’t agree with the hard floors.
Next to the beds was the tatami area which was initially setup for lounging. As we got settled, some tea and snacks were brought in.
The room had a balcony which provided views over the Dogo-town area.
We literally didn’t use the shower or tub over the next 3 days, not because we are disgusting human beings, but…well more on that later.
And the standard, high-tech Japanese toilet.
The hotel asked us if we’d like the Western beds or tatami beds setup at turndown service, and we decided to give the tatami a shot. A light futon was laid down to provide some cushioning.
I guess it all comes down to preference, and in general I do prefer a firm mattress, but I slept like a rock. It was by far the best sleep that I had on the entire trip.
We came to Matsuyama to unwind from hectic city life, and that’s exactly what we did. Our stay was so relaxing and peaceful. Throughout the day we’d stroll through the hotel’s Japanese garden.
Unfortunately the cherry blossoms hadn’t started blooming.
Around the hotel and throughout the broader Dogo-town area which included neighboring shops and restaurants, it’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to wear the Japanese yukata. Think of it as a thinner and lighter robe that is basically like wearing pajamas. Looking back, I don’t think that I wore a proper pair of pants for those 3 days.
Next to the lobby there were a series of tea and cake shops, and a decorative room which, if I read the sign correctly, the royal family used when they stayed in the area.
But here’s the main reason that you visit Matsuyama – the onsen, or hot springs. There was no need to visit the famous Dogo onsen, since Funaya had great facilities with 2 separate onsens that were swapped in the morning/night for men and women.
Let me tell you that onsen-life is the best life. Throughout the day we’d head to the onsen, and since we were already wearing yukata, could be naked and ready to go in under 30 seconds. And yes, you go into the onsen completely naked, which can be a little awkward at first. But even as the fat kid who used to wear a t-shirt in the swimming pool, after a while I got used to being stark naked around a bunch of strangers.
It also took a couple tries, but I also finally learned proper onsen technique. You start with a full shower while sitting on the wooden block. Since the hot springs don’t have any chlorine (only natural sulfur), the shower is important to maintain proper hygiene. Since we were showering like this 3-4 times a day, there was no reason to use the one we had in our room.
Each of the 2 onsens had 3 different hot baths to choose from. From what I could tell they were all the same, just with varying locations and sizes.
In particular I enjoyed the outdoor one, since the onsen was so hot that it felt amazing to jump out of the water to air dry in the cool evening breeze. The first couple times I had been showering again after my onsen, but apparently that’s a no-no since you’re supposed to leave the minerals on your skin.
There was a restaurant in the hotel where breakfast was served, and each morning we had the choice of Japanese or Western breakfast. It was quite a bit of food, with no complaints from me, and of similar quality to the Conrad’s Japanese breakfast. Other than breakfast, we ate all of our meals around town.
We loved our stay at Funaya, and would highly recommend making a stop here on your next trip to Japan in order to escape the hustle and bustle of the more popular tourist destinations.