jpn 052013 chapter 7: reunion at secret onsen

cool friends, hot baths, and delicious sake

there’s something special/sweet about meeting up with old friends in a foreign land. it’s like getting lost and then getting found. it kinda feels like we’ve gone home.

we were en route to meet a group of ultra-running friends who had just taken part in the utmf (ultra-trail mt fuji). from toyama to akita was a long way so what we did was to break up the journey into 2 parts, making a stopover at niigata for 2 nights. we took the coastal (sea of japan) route because the alternative would be to head back to tokyo for the transfer to akita. this way, we got to enjoy another part of japan and the travelling wouldn’t be insanely long. here, we finally got moving from niigata to  akita to tazawako, to go to the secret onsen.

akita, here we come!

akita, here we come!

here are some of the marvellous views we got from the train and bus.

seaside bungalows

seaside bungalows

parallel track

coastal road

jinja in the fields

jinja (shrine)  in the fields

on the way to secret onsen

on the way to the secret onsen

ski field along the way

ski field along the way

and finally, after a long and arduous journey, we were reunited with our friends at the secret onsen, taenoyu. taenoyu was tucked deep in the mountains and although it was already may, there was still lots of snow.

reunion! breakfast at taenoyu

reunion! breakfast at taenoyu

taenoyu literally means ‘enchanting boobs’ and it is part of the nyuto onsen village (nyuto means nipples). this interesting moniker was due to the village being in the valley of 2 peaks which resembled a pair of full breasts. despite the names, there were absolutely no sexual undertones pervading the village. in fact, the very isolation of this place makes it a perfect getaway from the cities. something that we, city dwellers, appreciate immensely.

taenoyu

taenoyu

outside the onsen

outside the onsen

the next day, when the snow had melted

the next day, when the snow had melted

road leading from the onsen

road leading to the onsen

secret trail at the back of onsen

secret trail at the back of onsen

secret trail again

waterfall

more secret trail

almost dusk

not only were we mesmerised by the landscape outside, the baths within lived up to expectations. we would often calibrate the quality of onsens based on their outdoor baths ie the atmosphere of the baths and the views from the outdoor baths. being laymen, we can’t really distinguish the difference in the quality of the water.

the outdoor mixed bath

the outdoor mixed bath

view from the mixed bath

view from the mixed bath

indoor bath

another outdoor mixed bath

the other highlight of the onsens was always the food. glorious food! we’d never ceased to be amazed by the quality of the food in terms of freshness, taste and presentation. here, even the welcome tea they served us were in exquisite teacups paired with fresh flowers plucked from the premises.

welcome tea

welcome tea

starter, deliciously presented

starter, enticingly presented

the simple radish got an upgrade

the simple radish got an upgrade

sashimi - so fresh even i could eat it

sashimi – so fresh even i could eat it

succulent pork being gently toasted over a fire

succulent pork being gently toasted over a fire

eel in a clear broth

eel in a clear broth

beef on a beautiful bespoke plate

pan-fried pork loving laid on a beautiful bespoke plate

all the crockery and cutlery were customised for the ryokan, even the simplest ingredient and the condiments were not overlooked and had their own special vessels.

a raw egg in ceramic pot

a raw egg in light broth 

the lovely soy sauce

the lovely soy sauce

which condiment, i wonder

which condiment lies within, i wonder

breakfast spread

breakfast spread

you may wonder, what else did we do other than soak ourselves wrinkled in the hot soups and eat our hearts out at every meal. well, we did head to kaunodate, a samurai village to try to catch some sakuras. the sakuras couldn’t wait for us but we found something better. there was a festive vibe in the village and all the shops had laid out tables in the outdoors for food tasting, including all the sake shops. yeah, that’s one of our favourite past-times : drinking sakes!

sake tasting

sake tasting

our stash after all the sake tasting

our loot after all the sake tasting

not sure if the sakuras had bloomed or not

no more sakuras but still a pretty sight

river along kakunodate

the opposite view

tazawako - the lake

tazawako – the lake

the lake from afar

the mysterious tazawako lake (from up on the hill)

snow and preppy hill

snow and trees

next: chasing sakuras at hanamaki.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s