Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The last leg of the traveling was to Kinosaki, a romantic onsen town about 2 hours northwest of Miyazu. We were only there for one night but it was definitely one of my most memorable. The wonderful Yoshidas drove me and Paul there after I got off work and took us to our wonderful little hotel/ryokan/onsen up a narrow little street.
We barely had time to put our bags down and change into our yukatas when our dinner was served to us in our room by a gracous elderly hotel servant. She brought in trays and trays of food- and we had probably the most luxurious dinner I've ever had in my stay in Japan so far. There were plates of crabs, soba noodles, tempura, soup, rice, fruit and this cool soup uh, thingie... A votive candle was lit under a wire basket with what seemed to be a big white coffee filter filled with a dark broth. For some reason, the paper didn't burn- I guess because there was liquid in it, and the hotel servant woman had to give us detailed instructions on the order in which to place the assorted plate of raw meats and vegetables into the broth. When the candle extinguished itself, we assumed it was ready to eat- the soupy stew was rich and savory, the meat perfectly tender and the vegetables cooked to perfection.. It was a another long dinner and our legs suffered from sitting in such uncomfort- able positions. When the hotel servant came back (several times) to check on the progress of the dinner, I'm sure she was shocked to see Paul's legs stretched out underneath the low table and toes peeking out the opposite end!!
After dinner, we decided to walk it off by exploring the town. Everyone strolls around wearing yukatas as they walk from one onsen to another. We both tried on "geta" for the first time- the wooden blocks were not too difficult to walk in, but stairs were precarious. The town is really picturesque, like an Asian Venice, centering around a canal filled with huge colorful koi (carp) and lined with weeping willow trees. Stone bridges cross over the canal at regular intervals and white cranes perch along the water. We didn't visit any of the numerous onsens that lined the streets but we did enjoy a private soak in our hotel's onsen after we got back. I wish I took pictures of some of the funny signs throughout the hotel ("Bathloom", etc.).
The next morning, an equally impressive breakfast was served to us in our room (fish, egg, soup, rice, stewed vegetables, pickled vegetables, seaweed, fish, and yogurt. Before heading back to Miyazu on the cute little blue train, we wandered around town, poking into the various shops and checking out the beautiful landscape. (Check out the branch on the pine tree).