Honeymoon Blog/Picts - Day 9
- Last updated on March 18, 2009 at 6:49 am
- 1 comment
Kinosaki Onsen: (As told by Marla & Andrew)
This morning was a day for recovering from our long hike up Mt. Misen... Japanese style. How do you do this? By a trip to an Onsen! (Japanese Hot Spring Resort.) On to the town of Kinosaki-Onsen for us. A haven for the Onsen expert containing several of these hot springs open to the public.
Our morning in Kyoto was a lovely one, and while the sights and sounds of the city called, we opted instead to try a hot springs simply because we wanted to avoid the weekend crowds. Before we headed on our favorite JR train, we stopped at a delicious coffee place down inside the station. One quick note... food presentation, everything here is so beautifully packaged, even the coffee you get at a train station.
The ride up to Kinosaki was very relaxed. The crowds were small, and the scenery was out standing. We arrived to the small town filled with quiet streets, beautiful Ryokan (Japanese Inns) and people wandering about in their Yukata (robes) and Geta (shoes) going from hot spring to hot spring. It was then an there we decided we shall no longer listen to a travel agent who unfortunately talked us out of staying in a Ryokan. Not only do you get free access to the hot springs, your stay also comes with breakfast and dinner. We had been told that only westerners stay in these places, but as far as we could tell, this was not the case.
While hiking towards the onsen of our choice, we kept encountering a group of school children in bright yellow hats. Even at the tender age of 5 and 6, these kids knew key phrases in english. We kept hearing them shout out “Americani”, “Hello, how are you?” Andrew and I would reply and they would laugh and the next group of kids would try their hand.
We finally arrived at a small hot spring. The owners spoke no english, but were friendly and through much gestures and writing, we were able to communicate. (Andrew here:) Now if you’ve never been to an onsen, they’re a bit different than American spas. The accommodations are simple with wooden lockers for your clothes as you’re to enter the waters naked. After changing out of your clothes, you enter a community bathing area with small seats, buckets, soap, a small towel and a moveable shower-head. You’re to scrub yourself down and rinse off before entering the pools, which I’m totally fine with but its the whole doing it around other naked guys thing. But that part of the experience didn’t last long and I soon felt at ease because I was clearly the most many man of the group. :) One particular thing I began to experience is the Japanese dislike of foreigners in general. When I would enter a pool, they would leave. If the choice is to sit with you on a train or stand, they’ll choose to stand. Eat at a table with you or wait for their own, they’ll wait. No one is rude about it but we just started to notice it happening more often. All in all, it was nice because I basically got the whole onsen to myself. (End Andrew) The waters were divine and as promised, very soothing... so soothing that not long after, we were ready to head home for a much deserved rest.
Before that we decided to grab a quick bite to eat, but it wasn’t easy as all the restaurants were closed until 6 p.m. and we were looking to grab some food before the 5:30 train. We did find one place that was a basic beer pub that brewed their own beers. We pointed at the steak picture and then pointed at the pasta picture and about ten minutes later they brought us exactly those things. What looked like a simple slice of steak with a dabble of mashed potatoes turned out to be one of the best plates of food we’ve ever had. The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked with a soy mushroom glaze that I was practically licking off the plate. Marla had a carbonara pasta dish that had perfectly cooked pasta with lite cream sauce that was, once again, amazing. No matter where we go, we seem to have great food.
Our train arrived on time and its rhythmic swaying put us both into a nice, little nap before we arrived at our Kyoto hotel.
Next time we come to Japan, it’s Ryokans and at least two days in Kinosaki for us.