A Night in a Traditional Inn, Kai Tsugaru

The lobby of the inn

We took a long train ride in a local train to the traditional inn. Turned out to be part of a chain of resorts, one in Bali and Fiji. The lobby was huge with a rather Korean style mural, Reiko thought. Registering took over an hour. In Japan, one does not register at the desk, at least not in this type of inn. A uniformed welcoming/clerk woman knelt in front of a low table where we all were comfortably ensconced on sofas, having been provided with snacks and tea. No one spoke English so I figured Tom and I could never have done this on our own. Reiko had called ahead to order our dinner and she explained about my gluten allergy. I had to sign a slip in Japanese saying I had told them.

our rooms

The climate was mild but there was still some snow piled against the building. We were in the mountains but spring was arriving and the inn was decorated with flowers. Our rooms were paper-walled, sliding door, traditional with  no sign of beds, just low tables and carefully decorated niches. I guess the mats were laid out while we were at dinner. We were also provided with lovely Hakata, wool jackets and sandals but I neglected to get photos of us.

Dinner was offered in a private room but Reiko moved us to an airier one on the floor. Our server was an obliging young man who knelt on the floor by Isao to answer questions and explain dishes. He seemed obsequious but they all do.

Our server at dinner

the meat course that we cooked ourselves

The food was all superb, about seven courses. The main course was pieces of terrific beef and vegetables  to be cooked on individual burners, fun and delicious.

After dinner we all went to dress in yakata to visit the baths, men’s and women’s, fed by hot springs in the area. I swam around the pool trying not to look at the matrons showering on low stools around the perimeter. This is difficult for Americans. I spied one woman helping her elderly mother wash her hair, an involved process for the Japanese. Each bath has seats and open showers all around, provided with shampoos, conditioners, loofas, everything. The women stared at me but I was coughing and blowing my nose from a cold contracted in China.

The pool was hot and contained beautiful, huge apples floating all around. This is apple country and everything is apple, pool, tea, cakes. Tom reported that a older Japanese man in his bath pool was breaking the apples in half with is bare hands. Tom thought it might be a show of strength, but who knows, he might have wanted cooked apples.

I had drunk Saki with my evening meal so I was pretty tired by the time we regrouped for a concert by a Shamisen played. It’s a long necked, three string banjo/guitar instrument, a little screechy but that did not prevent me from falling asleep in my comfortable chair. The room was full of attentive Japanese couples.

After the concert we retired to our mats to sleep.


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