September 8th, 2017
My post today will be brief as I only have a short while left to enjoy this Ryokan. For those who don’t know, a Ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel that are usually known for their Onsens (volcanic hot springs) and exquisite meals.
My day starts off in Shin-Yokohama. After planning out my route for the day, I pack up all my stuff, get cleaned up, then check out of my room. I made way towards the bakery that I wanted to try yesterday and thankfully it was open today! I got a flaky donut and a thick cut of bread with some kind of pudding on top of it. They were both delicious!
After breakfast, it was time to hit the trains again. This was going to be a slightly longer stint on the Shinkansen towards Odowara Station, so I was curious to see how fast we would go. As I arrive at the station, I pull out my phone to verify that I’m about to board the correct train and… a police officer is walking towards me. Aww man not this again. The officer says to me, “Hello! Visitor? Tourist?” I say back, “Yes, visitor!” He replies, “Okay, can I see your passport?” “Sure!” I say back. A few checks later and I was off. A little nerve wracking for sure, but even when the Japanese suspect that you may be an illegal alien, they’re still polite and friendly!
Okay, back to my train. Soon, the Nozomi Super Express arrived at my station. I found a seat and we were off. WHOOOAH this thing goes insanely fast. I can’t describe how weird the feeling was to be going so fast while being so low to the ground. It actually felt like being in a jet airplane but near the ground. Incredible – Again, that journey makes me long for such trains in the US.
After feeling like I was teleported via Shinkansen to Odowara, I walked off the train and noticed that the climate was significantly different. It was hot, humid, and rainy down here while in Shin-Yokohama it was warm and sunny. Now I needed to find the bus to my station. Many travel sites recommend getting an IC for daily expenses in Japan. Up until now, I’ve forgone the IC card and have mainly stuck with cash. Now I’m seriously considering an IC card after that bus ride.
With buses in Japan, if you don’t have an IC card, you must first take a ticket from the bus entrance, stow your luggage in the back of the bus, then find an empty seat. The number on your ticket will determine your fare. Now here’s the tricky part. Your fare is calculated near the end of your trip. This means that you will have to scramble for exact change (no cash allowed!), grab your belongings, and move through a crowded bus. I made a little bit of a fool of myself trying to exit the bus but to be fair, what a strugglefest that was. Oh well, at least I know what to do now. I think I’ll grab an IC card when I get back to town.
The bus ride climbed up narrow mountain hills through a lovely waterfall-filled forest. There was lots of traffic on the route up to the mountain – I had almost forgotten what traffic was due to the extreme efficiency of the trains! After about an hour, I arrived at my stop and walked through the now heavy rainfall. I was a little early, so I checked my bags and waited in the lobby for a little while. Soon, I was taken to my room and was shown all the different amenities by my host. The room was very big and it smells relaxing! Like light incense! Here’s a brief video tour featuring me in the Yukata (light summer kimono) that you must wear throughout your stay.
Throughout the rest of the day, I relaxed in my room and enjoyed the heavy rainfall, my beautiful view, and some green tea /w fresh mochi. It was wonderful.
Soon, it was time for dinner. Ryokans are known for their exquisite and beautiful meals. Mine was no exception. 15 courses of the most beautiful dishes I have ever seen. Each and every bite was unique. They do not allow phones in the dining hall (in-fact, you’re not really supposed to be using your phone at all!) so I don’t have any photos, but you can be assured that it was gorgeous. There was even a raw snail! I ate the raw snail on a bed of fine salt! I do not like raw snail! :D
It was a lovely dinner. The prettiest? Yes by far. The most delicious on the trip? Actually, I think that title still stands with the sushi I had in Ikebukuro. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful dinner and I can’t wait to see what I get for breakfast.
By the time dinner was over, I was very tired and a little too full to go down to the Onsen. I decided that I would go early in the morning. As I write this post-onsen, I can tell you that going early in the morning (4:30) was the right idea. It was beautiful and I will share the experience along with what I had for breakfast on tomorrows post!
As for the lack of photos: hopefully the ones supplied by the venue will give you a better idea of what I experienced, though I don’t see my specific dinner on there. I believe the food is seasonal.