Hangetsuan Ryokan - Iwakuni

You haven’t really been to Japan if you have never set foot in a ryokan (旅館). Ryokans are Japanese style lodging that offer different, more orthodox Japanese experiences than just regular hotels. Sounds a bit intimidating? Well then, why not just try having lunch at one of Iwakuni’s ryokans for a starter?

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Hangetsuan (半月庵) is a 140-year old ryokan located in the heart of castle town Iwakuni near the Kintai Bridge. It was a tea house to host Japanese Naval personnel before and during the WWII then American military service members after. The ryokan has rich and interesting history which the owner of the ryokan, Mr. Morimoto can tell you all about.

Good people of Iwakuni come to Hangetsuan for lunch, dinner, meetings, weddings, and all other special occasions. The ryokan has hosted many guests from all over Japan and overseas. The food they serve is called kaiseki (懐石), or special course meal prepared for guests whom the host cares dearly. The chef takes hours, days, sometimes weeks to prepare for a kaiseki meal. The artwork in your bowls and plates are beautiful and the price reflects the time and effort that were put into this delicious craftwork.

However, you can experience a piece of this fabulous meal at lunch. Lunch is much simpler than kaiseki dinner and so is the price, but still just as good. Just because the ingredients aren’t as rare or the number of dishes is less doesn’t mean the chef puts any less effort in making lunch. So what do they offer for lunch? Here are your options:

Iwakuni Sushi:

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Iwakuni Sushi is not the typical “sushi” that you’re familiar with: a piece of raw fish on top of a brick of rice. Iwakuni Sushi is a pressed sushi with layers of rice and vegetables and fish in between topped with delicate ribbons of fried eggs. Iwakuni Sushi was created by the first feudal lord Hiroie Kikkawa and is a must-have local food for weddings and funerals along with Ohira. At Hangetsuan, they use 4 big square dishes and cut them into 144 pieces and serve them.

Ohira:

Ohira is another Iwakuni novelty that is imperative for special occasions that contains wild plants, chicken, konnyaku (hard jelly-like food made from konnyaku potato starch), and deepfried tofu. The stew has subtle but rich flavors of vegetables. In order to bring out the taste of the vegetable stock, little is added to this simple stew. By the way, it’s totally acceptable to pick up a bowl and slurp your soup in Japan. After all, that’s the most efficient way to eat soup and not waste a drop of it.

Hangetsu Gozen (半月御膳)

Iwakuni Sushi – One layer 2,000 yen

Iwakuni Sushi – Two layers       2,300 yen

White rice                              1,800 yen

Comes with: appetizer, tempura, sashimi (raw fish slices), ohira, rice or Iwakuni sushi, chawan-mushi (egg custard side dish), and dessert.

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Chiyo Gozen (千代御膳)*

 1,800 yen

Chiyo Uno was born and raised in Iwakuni and wrote a famous novel Ohan based in Hangetsuan. This lunch set is consisted of her favorites at Hangetsuan. This lunch is nostalgic to the Taisho era (1912-1926). The half-moon-shaped bowls shown in the picture were gifted from Chiyo Uno.

*Only available upon reservation at least 3 days ahead.

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Iwakuni Sushizen(岩国寿司膳)

Two-layered Iwakuni Sushi 1,600 yen

Comes with: Iwakuni sushi, ohira, small side dish, egg custard, and dessert.

Iwakuni Sushizen is the most popular lunch menu.

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Kaisekiju(懐石重)*

One-layered Iwakuni Sushi 2,700 yen

White rice                              2,500 yen

This is the most reasonable kaiseki experience you could have. With this lunch set, you get two layered boxes filled with small portions of real kaiseki, which is Hangetsuan’s specialty. The chef spent tremendous amount of time and energy without sparing his craftmanship.

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Osashimizen (お刺身膳)

One-layered Iwakuni Sushi 2,100 yen

Two-layered Iwakuni Sushi 2,400 yen

White rice                              1,900 yen

Comes with: sashimi, ohira, small side dish, iwakuni sushi or white rice, egg custard, and dessert.

Sashimi, the main dish of this lunch set, is expertly handpicked and sliced raw fish. Dip the fish slices in the kanro shoyu (very rich soy sauce from Yanai. Fermented for over 2 years.) and enjoy the fish of the season.

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Tempura Gozen(天ぷら御膳)

One-layered Iwakuni Sushi 1,800 yen

Two-layered Iwakuni Sushi 2,100 yen

White rice                              1,600 yen

Comes with: tempura, ohira, small side dish, iwakuni sushi or white rice, egg custard and dessert.

Tempura is made on order. Enjoy hot and crispy vegetables with the authentic dipping sauce made from dried kelp and dried bonito flakes.

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A la carte

  • Two-layered Iwakuni Sushi………………….760 yen

  • Ohira…………………………………………...400 yen

  • Egg custard……………………………………300 yen

  • Sashimi…………………………………………1,200 yen

  • Dessert…………………………………………200 yen

  • Tempura………………………………………...800 yen

  • Grilled Ayu (sweet fish)………………………600 yen

*taxes NOT included in the prices.

 

Kaiseki(懐石)

If you want the full kaiseki experience, there are so many options and services here, too. Kaiseki meals consist of seasonal vegetables, fish, anything in season, so it is not guaranteed what you’ll get for your dinner. However, in most cases, they can tell you what you can expect in your dinner a few days ahead of time.

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A kaiseki course meal costs at least 6,000+ yen per person and it varies depending on what you want.

If you’re interested in having lunch, dinner, or staying at Hangetsuan, we can assist you in making inquiries and/or reservations.

 

Official website of Hangetsuan:

https://hangetuan.com/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/hangetsuan_official/

 FaceBook:

https://www.facebook.com/hangetuan/