My most memorable experience in Japan was visiting an Onsen Town. Minakami is a mountainous hot spring town close to Tokyo. Numerous sky resorts are found around this area as well as hot springs. There are several hotels that have hot springs.
I preferred staying at Tarakawa Onsen a rustic lone ryokan nestled deep in the mountains. A ryokan is perfect for travelers that want to experience Japanese culture and enjoy good Japanese food. Staying in Tarakawa Onsen, was my most memorable experience in Japan.
This journey began at the train station where I was greeted by a courteous Japanese man that would take me to the ryokans courtesy shuttle to Tarakawa Onsen. The drive was scenic as we made our way around the mountain tops covered with snow.
It was the end of March and I had just left behind cherry blossoms in Tokyo and was entering winter wonderland. It was a 30 minute drive that I will never forget. I was on my way to experience a vacation where I could soak, sleep, and soak some more (my weekly routines include soaking in epson salts)in a natural hot springs.
Upon arriving I was greeted by friendly staff where I was given house shoes and a robe that I was expected to wear at all times during my stay. What a perfect way to start a vacation!! I could lounge all day in a robe and slipper or relax inside hot springs.
Thereafter I was guided down a long hall with wood floors to my room. The room where I stayed was divided in two areas. One area where I could leave my belonging an another to sleep. The rooms were light on furniture a small round table with a tea cup set and a TV. The room opened up to a small terrace with views to a stream of water . I could hear the water touching the rocks. I love being so close to nature.
As the sun set in the mountains covered with snow and trees illuminated the bright blue sky as its shades change. I enjoyed my time soaking in the warm waters. There are three mixed bathing hot spring and a women’s only outdoor spring.Note that you are expected to use the shower rooms before you enter the hot springs to wash your entire body with soap.
A note to take is that some people like to go nude. No worries these hot springs have plenty of hidden little places for you to stay. Women are given a towel to wrap themselves and mens a small face towel to cover their parts. After soaking for a few hours, I got out to go for dinner at the dinning time. Each person is allotted a special time.
In my case dinner was served in an elaborate way in the dinning room. Several courses were served including a fish that you cook on your own burner, mushrooms, sashimi, raw horse meat, rice and noodles. All the meals are included in the night rate. Therefore the only option you get is to select your breakfast.
You can choose from the Western breakfast or Japanese breakfast. The Western option includes hard boiled egg, sausage, salad, yogurt and fruit. The Japanese option includes egg omelette, sticky rice, sweet beans, baked fish and nori with soy sauce.
I opted for the Western version this time. The whole experience was amazing. After dinner I went to bed early to prepare myself for an early rise for more soaking. Visiting an onsen town was the best experience in my trip to Japan.
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