Could you communicate with the staff in the ryokan?
Marukoma's counter staff spoke limited English, but no problem with communication.
Ginkonyu, the daughter-in-law, Ryoko used to live in Sydney, Australia, so English is no issue here.
Did the earthquake affect your travel?
This is an experience we will never forget. The day before the earthquake we were in Marukoma ryokan awoken at around 03:00 by a weird sound which turned out to be typhoon Jibi. We were on the third floor with the lake view, upon opening the blind we witnessed a heavy rain and very strong wind, the roof became a waterfall, and the lake was turned into a "washing machine". A scary moment indeed. The next morning we decided to drive to Obihiro, only to learn that we were unable to get out of the ryokan, the only and many other roads were blocked due to fallen trees and landslides. We waited until some roads were cleared and eventually managed to reach Obihiro that evening.
Coincidentally the next day after the typhoon, also at the wee hour of 03:00 our bed was shaken badly, we were awoken in complete darkness, immediately realized it was an earthquake, a big one surely. We ran downstairs, stayed in the lobby with others and got news from the staff that the epicenter was Tomakomai, a mere 100 miles away.
The next morning we decided to get away from all this and drove along the coast visiting Cape Erimo, Hiroo and all the way to Kushiro. Only upon arrival in the evening, we found out that whole Hokkaido was in total darkness, no electricity, no running water, and no food. All restaurants, supermarkets, combinies were closed due to empty shelves. We were lucky still to have booked our hotel, even though we had to stay in a dark room with merely a small battery torch; shower and also the in-room toilet were not working due to no running water. Toilets in the lobby were available and to be cleaned with a bucket of water after use.
We continued our trip following our itinerary with only minor hitch, long queue for petrol.
We have visited Japan many, many times, and often wonder what typhoon and big earthquake felt like. This visit answered our "curiosity", and we were lucky to have experienced all these in Japan when order and calm are social "norms" in the community.