Sunday, 10 March 2013

Osenkaku Ryokan, Takaragawa Onsen

We drove across the river and right up to the entrance of Osenkaku Ryokan. The building is big for the middle of nowhere. The main entrance to the hotel has large Japanese style sliding doors that open into a huge open foyer. Timber everywhere. Polished timber floors, timber beams, timber holding up timber with timber supports. A couple of guys emerge to welcome us. They're dressed in what looks like blue karate uniforms. If they'd tumbled out like ninjas tossing throwing stars I wouldn't have been surprised. The illusion is shattered somewhat when I notice they're wearing rubber Crocs.
View from our room
View down the river from our room

One of the guys is the hotel concierge and he welcomes us to the hotel. He helps us unload our bags and directs the other guy to park our car. Inside we take off our shoes, because in most traditional style Japanese hotels you have to take off your shoes. Our shoes are whisked away and we're given huge western sized slippers to wear. 99% of slippers are sized for dainty little Japanese feet and we, Michelle and I, usually have to squeeze our humongous clod hoppers in. Osenkaku though has a few larger sized slippers. Georgia even gets slippers the smallest child size but they're too big for her. She still wanted to wear them though and shuffled around awkwardly.

Next we go through the tea and registration ceremony. We're served green tea and biscuits while we fill in the registration form and hand over our passports for copying. Then we're shown to the stacks of Yukata. Yukata are casual kimonos and are generally worn in Ryokans. I found one big enough for me, Michelle one big enough to wrap around her pregnant belly, and a cute little pink one for Georgia. Our bags are loaded on to a trolley and we're taken up to our room, up a clanky elevator and down creaky a hallway in the East Building.

We have a Japanese style tatami mat room but we have a bathroom and toilet. The toilet comes with its own slippers, not to mention the usual heated seat. We also get dinner served in the room. Our beds aren't laid out until after dinner. The futon fairies usually turn up after dinner and roll out the futons. We have a corner room so we have views up the river and across the river. If we lean out of the window we can see down river to where the rotenburo are. Rotenburos are outdoor onsen -  outdoor hot spring pools.

Map of the hotel and rotenburo
The rotenburo are the main reason we've come to Osenkaku. Many ryokans have rotenburo but they're usually segregated by sex. Osenkaku have four large rotenburo and three have mixed sex bathing. Oh yeah. Sexy time in the hot tub. Except we have a 2 year old. And Michelle is 26 weeks pregnant. And there are other people around and... Okay, probably not much sexy time in the hot tub but a good long relaxing soak is something we've been looking forward to for 3 years. There's plenty of snow on the ground so we'll also get to sit in a rotenburo in the snow. Awesome.
One of the hallways

The only down side to staying in these isolated relaxation resorts is the remoteness. That is, no internet and no mobile phone coverage. We're deep in a valley so no signal. I think I will survive for the 2 nights we are here though. The room does have a tele so if I get desperate I can flick it on and try to decipher what is happening in the world.

We're informed dinner is at 6.30. We think we have time to take a dip in the rotenburo.

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