Return to Japan: Day 6

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I had an amazing sleep last night due to my, well, lack of over the last couple of days.  I don’t think I physically left my bed until about 9 am, although I really didn’t have anything to do that morning except check out of my hostel. Since I showered last night, it didn’t take me long to get ready, so I was packed and checked out of my hostel by 10 am.

Because I had picked up some souvenirs during my time in Kyoto, my luggage has become quite heavy, so I opted to take a bus to Kyoto Station. Luckily, the bus wasn’t busy so I didn’t have to risk accidentally bowling anyone over with my gigantic suitcase.

By 11:25, I was on a train bound for Kinosaki Onsen, which, as you might guess, is famous for its onsen (hot springs). There are 7 public baths in total, although many of the inns have their own private baths, as well. Each bath has its own history and features. For example. Ichi-no-Yuu has an indoor bath and an outdoor one in a small cave. Gosho-no-Yuu is huge and has a large indoor bath as well as a smaller outdoor bath next to a waterfall.

In any case, the train from Kyoto to Kinosaki is about 2.5 hours long, so I snacked on some rice balls for brunch. I am staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) called Nishimiraya Honkan and, as with most ryokan, they serve a huge multi-course traditional dinner (called “kaiseki” if you want to look up some examples). As a result, I wanted to have a truly empty stomach by the time dinner rolled around, so I didn’t eat much.

 

Top: obligatory cruddy train window shot on the way to Kinosaki. Bottom and right: Kinosaki Onsen.

 
Anyway, the train ride was quite nice, as we passed by a lot of rural areas, rivers, and mountains. As we headed further north, I started to notice bits of snow here and there, although still nowhere near the amount we have back home, although I suppose that’s not easy to match.

When I got to Kinosaki, I arranged to have my luggage delivered to my ryokan while I walked there. A shuttle bus service exists but I enjoy a good walk, and it was cool seeing all the different shops and the road takes you along a little willow-lined river crossed by several tiny arch bridges, although since it’s still winter, the willow trees are still bare. Some of the stores were selling fresh crabs, which is Kinosaki’s specialty during the winter.

 

The sights around Kinosaki Onsen.

 
When I got to the ryokan, I checked in and settled into my room. There isn’t much of a view but it’s still nice and way more space than I’m used to after staying in a hostel dorm for the past 5 days. I received some traditional snacks and tea and relaxed a little in my room, watching a bit of TV for about an hour. Of course, I can’t understand anything on TV but I like having some background noise and I haven’t watched TV since leaving home.

After that, I put on my yukata provided by the ryokan. Luckily, it also comes with a second, heavier yukata to wear over top, plus a coat to keep warm, and yes, I wore tank socks with my beta sandals! Socks with sandals, yay! lol.

I visited Mandara-Yuu and Gosho-no-Yuu, which took me a little over an hour combined. If you’ve ever read my blog posts from my last Japan trip, I fainted after spending some time in a hot public bath, so I don’t linger long in any of them now to be cautious. After those two, I returned to the ryokan for dinner.

  
Dinner was served in my own room and it was a delicious feast. Some of the features were crab (lots of it), Tajima beef (melt in your mouth delicious), and sashimi. Some of the crab was grilled right in my room over a small traditional grill with fire and everything, and the rice was cooked in my room in a traditional cooker, as well. It was really cool! Anyway, not eating much paid off because I nearly finished everything. I was really proud of myself!

 I let my stomach rest for about 20 minutes and then left to try more baths. This time, I tried Jizo-no-Yuu and Ichi-no-Yuu. Sato-no-Yuu is closed on Mondays and Yanagi-Yuu looked closed when I went past, and I will likely visit Kou-no-Yuu tomorrow morning.By the time I returned to the ryokan, it was past 10 pm and a futon was all laid out for me to sleep in. The staff even left me a flashlight for the night, which is a nice touch! This girl won’t be stumbling to the bathroom in the dark tonight!

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