Wednesday, 30 June 2010
No trip to Japan is complete without an excursion to an onsen. These natural hot springs are great for relaxing and loosening tired muscles. And they give a lot of insight into the Japanese mind.
I chose Taenoyu Onsen, part of the Nyuto complex because it allows internet reservations and it has a private bath. You arrange for your hour long private bath time when you arrive, along with your meal times.
The onsen also provides a complementary bath package including a small towel, toothbrush, brush, razor, shower cap and q-tips. The shower units in the onsen have shampoo, conditioner and body wash and with the large towels provided in the rooms and yukata for wear around the building guests don't have to bring anything!
There are 7 baths, 4 with 'gold' water, 3 with 'silver'. There are two male baths, two female (one indoor, one outdoor in each category and they change gender at 8 pm so you can try them all), 2 outdoor mixed baths and the private bath. (Pictured below are the two womens baths, the two outdoor baths, with their view of the waterfall, and the private bath.) We ended up trying all 7.
Meals were exquisite. Dinner consisted of more courses than I could count. Here was the table as the meal started. The tall pot was for kiritampo nabe, the smaller one for grilling bamboo stalks. To this were added a mushroom soup, white fish (complete with head, skin, etc.), rice and more.
Our beds were made up when we got back to the room after dinner. We put them away before heading down for breakfast the next morning. I'm used to onsen breakfasts to be rice, whole fish and an raw egg. So I wasn't expecting the feast that awaited us. Like dinner, more was brought to the table as we finished other dishes. The grill has bacon in it, which we cooked an egg on as well. The rolled bamboo holders in the metal basket held natto (fermented soy beans) - not my favourite, though I did manage two bites without throwing up. :P
This was by far the best onsen I've ever visited. The quality of the food and service were top notch. It was also the most expensive onsen I've been to, but I'd say it was worth every yen.