Ryokan Time!

Posted By: Kimberly

The place where the Snow Monkeys was located was definitely not a place we could camp, since we were expecting snowfall and ice and what not. Therefore, we planned for a minor implosion in our finances to experience one of Japan's finest cultural offerings - the Ryokan stay.

ZsupCreator located Suisensou, not too budget busting and within walking distance from the JR Yudanaka train station, at Yamanouchi Town. Booking a place was easily done via the 'net, and we had very little trouble figuring out how to get there from the online map and some very useful signboards in the town itself. Be warned that it's not exactly right next door to the station, but it's certainly not a terrible walk to make.

We were a little unsure of how far we actually had to walk, since Japanese tourist maps have a habit of making some things seem too near, and other stuff deathly far. We were very happy to see the signboard as pictured on the booking website, really.

The room was a simple traditional affair, as can be seen above. In particular, note the table-like object of cushiony blanketness in the foreground? That's a kotatsu, and fixed on its underside was a heater that we both used to keep ourselves alive during our time in this place. Both of us having been born and bred in tropical environments, we were VERY appreciative of the toasty warmth emanating from it, especially since the room was rather traditional in design. (Read: Chilly to the max). In the background, you can see the two piles of what was to later become our individual futons. We set it up so that we both had one side of the kotatsu heater to warm our futons while we slept in a parallel sort of arrangement. The blankets were very fluffy, and the futon was the most comfortable thing I have slept on since I left home, really!

We also had the opportunity to try having a traditional Japanese bath, with hotspring water to soak in. Obviously, there were no pictures because 1. I refuse to risk my rather un-waterproof camera, and 2. I don't think anyone wants risque photos of me, really. The only sad bit here is that it was an indoors bathhouse, so I haven't yet fulfilled my dream of soaking in the amazing rock enclosed, open air pools that I saw the monkeys use earlier...

We also decided to reward ourselves for a long long train journey, both to get to Yamanouchi, and for what was ahead, in Yokohama. The spread you see above is one person's share of dinner. I found the tempura and sashimi to be of much the same standard as regular restaurant fare, but I really appreciated the salt baked fish and extra firm tofu cube. The tofu came with little anchovies as the toppings, instead of the bonito flakes that we generally get served in Singapore's Japanese restaurants. While simple, the dinner was extremely filling and we rolled upwards later feeling like we had pigged out overmuch!

I took this photo with our hosts just before we left. That's the ladyboss and her mother right there! Her father declined to be part of the picture, although he was sitting on the sofa, hidden behind my fat backpack. As advertised, they really were very sweet people, very concerned about our welfare and comfort. I'd certainly recommend this place to anyone who's watching their pockets but still want to experience a slice of traditional Japan! :)

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