The Missus and I finally found a couple of days off work to go to a favourite destination of ours: Hotsprings.
Shizuoka Prefecture is probably the most famous region in Japan for such a venue.
Hotels, Ryokans (inns) and Minshuku (Pensions) can wildly vary in prices, services and meals served, but my other half is a wizard (sorry, witch!) when it comes to find out the best deal out of the Internet.
She planned the whole trip as my experience has taught me it is better this way in spite of all the grumbling (why do I have to do everything?….).
Kanaya Railway Station, Oi River Railroad (minuscule!)
We left Shizuoka City (Higashi Shizuoka Station) at 09:56 and reached Kanaya Station at 10:34 using the Tokaido Railway Line.
Before buying our tickets, we checked with the small food stand at Kanaya Oi River Railroad Station (next to Kanaya Station) as they always sell good local ekiben/railway line bento!
Large signs across the track made sure you know your destination!
We ignored the SL train as we were planning to board it on our return and instead used the diesel-pulled train. No need to say that all trains along the Oi River Railroad track are crowded with train buffs on week-ends!
That railroad is mainly a single-track line except inside stations (and not all at that!).
My bento box!
It even contained a postcard!
The food inside!
The bento chosen by the Missus!
The food inside!
Kawane Green tea to washi it down. Don’t forget that Shizuoka Prefecture produces more than 45% of all green tea in Japan and the area we are going to cross on our way, Kawane, is the major green tea producing area!
Although the train runs along the Oi River between montains, thereis plenty of place for (tea) farming.
Tea fields everywhere!
This is the season and farmers are busy even on Sunday! You will find very few recreation spaces there as farmers are just too tired at the end of the day!
The Oi River has always been a major river in Japan! For once the weather was clement!
Wherever you go in Jpaan, you will discover ball parks where Elementary School kids are eager to show off their new uniforms!
We left Kanaya at 10:49 to reach Senzu Station, the last station for that particular train. Nice natural decoration!
A view of Senzu Station, which stands pretty high in the South Japanese Alps!
We had arrived at Senzu Station 12:04 and still had sometime before taking the bus to Sumatakyo at 13:30. We were getting a bit hungry. Luckily we noticed a gentleman grilling/bbq-ing large yamame!
Yamame (山女 or « Mountain Woman » in Japanese!) is a kind of trout, either called Japanese trout or Seema.
One can either eat wild ones or pond-raised ones. These fat samples are raised in local ponds fed with fresh mountain waters. Griiled with salt/shoyaki/塩焼き, they are succulent. You can eat the skin, too!
Almost « next door » to Senzu Station stands a very interesting museum dedicated to sound in their many form, natural or devised.
The place is called Otogi No Sato/Sound Village.
Check their (Japanese) HOMEPAGE.
I was particularly interested in the « percussion faces ».
Another one for a music-loving dentist?
Another one for hard hitting!
We finally reached our destination Suikoen Spa Hotel at 14:10.
Now, who is that lady?
Check the Hotel Homepage for more information (Japanese)!
I can assure you they will never lack water to turn that wheel!
Hotel lobby sitting room.
The lobby seen from the inside courtyard.
The same from another angle.
A small but scenic courtyard, indeed, with the nearby wooded mountains.
A small carp pond, naturally!
A traditional irori/囲炉裏 with a real charcoal fire!
As we still had plenty of time until dinner (served at 18:00, a bit early by Western standards!), we took the opportunity to visit the locality!
A traditonal minshuku/民宿 or pension.
Narrow streets with plenty of verdant nature!
Rivers and waterfalls running through the village!
Traditional Houses and shops.
And then it was time for dinner, but that is for Part 2!
Check the Hotel Homepage for more information (Japanese)!
Now, how much did we pay for one night at Suikoen Hotel, thebest one in Sumatakyo, lost in the southern Japan Alps with full dinner, breakfast and onsen bath/hotsprings bath?
130 US $ each, not bad!
Meals are taken early in Japanese hotsprings hotels.
Ours was launched at 6:00 p.m.!
A plate of zensai/appetizers was waiting for us.
And the procession of appetizers continued with stewed cold chicken and boiled vegetables,
yam, pickled wasabi and myoga ginger,
grilled yamame, you can eat the whole!
Japanese-style bbq with pork and vegetables and miso paste,
20 minutes later!
Shika tataki/Seared venison sashimi (the venison comes from wild deer in the nearvy mountains!),
an interesting « sashimi plate »: gomadofu/sesame tofu, salmon and konnyaku/devil’s tongue tuber jelly mixed with local green tea!
I don’t know too much baout this one. All I know is that it was made with azuki beans, yam and tofu. Very hearty!
Chinese-style fried salmon with sweet and sour sauce,
tsukemono, Japanese pickles,
Yamasemi (Mountain Kingfisher) white wine from Nagano Precture (extra fee!),
Freshly steamed rice is brought inside a double-lid pot,
so simple and delicious!
Miso soup, naturally,
Kawane Green Tea (did I tell you that Shizuoka Prefecture produces more than 45% of all green tea in Japan?)!
And Kawane green tea jelly for dessert!
The entrance of the hot baths…
The noren/curtain barring the view of the hot baths for men.
”男” means « men ». Don’t make a mistake!
The noren/curtain barring the view of the hot baths for women/ladies.
”女” means « women ». Don’t make a mistake again!
The « venues are switched every 12 hours. Do be careful and check! LOL
A view of the « make-up » room.
The indoor bath.
Scrub yourself before entering any bath!
Rotenburo/露天風呂/outdoors bath. A bit small, I must admit!
The relaxation room by the outdoors bath.
Do not trust the scales!
We did dip in the baths the next day before and after breakfast.
The breakfast was the all you can eat self-service style, both European and Japanese style. Above was my first helping (European).
I was really hungry after all the walking the day before (and more coming on that day!), I couldn’t help wolfing down another, Japanese-style, breakfast!
All considered, a good enough hotel, good steady food and very reasonable. Definitely recommended!
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES
So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,
Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents
HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City