Due to the late night last night we got a rather late start on our day. I think we were all up by around noon. We wanted to get on the road ASAP to start our road trip so once we were up we got moving to get ready. We needed to stop by the base so that we could pick up some money and I could get myself a new memory card for my camera (I still can’t believe I forgot it). Scott, Ian and myself headed off to base as Susan got ready. I got my memory card, which cost me twice as much on base than it would have online, we all got some money from the ATM and we got some food at Taco Bell while we were there.
When we got back to the house we were all pretty much ready to go so we packed up the car and headed out. We didn’t have any real concrete plans, we knew what area of japan we were going and some of the things that we wanted to see along the way but we didn’t know where we were sleeping or any fine details like that, we were winging it (not how I would have done it but I was just going with the flow). Or first destination was to be the Lake Tazawa area, lake Tazawa is the deepest lake in Japan, so that is where we headed off to.
ALong the way we made several stops at the rest areas along the way. One of these stops put us right next to a big volcano. Check it out.
Japan is a very beautiful country. It is extremely mountainous with tons of big beautiful trees. When I used to think of Japan I would picture it more like Tokyo, lots of buildings and neon and that kind of stuff, this trip really opened my eyes to how beautiful how the country is.
We drove on the toll road for two or two and half hours before we got off and boy did I have a surprise when we got off. The cost for us driving on the toll road was approxiametly fifty dollars, crazy. By the time we got off the freeway it was already getting dark outside so we decided to just head to the lake area and find ourselves a place to stay for the night and not do any real sightseeing today. It took us a couple of hours to make our way to the lake area, it was way up in the mountains, but we finally did make it. We even got some snow on our way up the mountain. When we made it to the top of the mountain there were a bunch of Onsen (natural hot spring bath houses which are extremely popular in Japan) as well as Ryokans (Ryokans are kind of like bed and breakfast inns in the states. The rooms are very traditional japanese with tatami mats and low tables, the often only have a communal bathroom and many of them have an onsen as well). There was a really nice Ryokan at the top of the mountain but it looked really expensive and crowded so we didn’t even bother checking. We found an onsen a bit further down the mountain called the Tazawa Plateau Hotel that looked nice but not outrageous and we headed in.
We had a very hard time communicating with the men working the front desk but there was a sign in japanese behind the front desk that said 6,000 yen so we were hoping that was the price….. it wasn’t. They asked us what time we wanted dinner so we made our reservation and then headed off to our rooms. I had never been to Ryokan before so I had no idea what to expect. Here is what my room looked like.
At many places in Japan you have to remove your shoes and the ryokan was one of these places. Now every place we have been to has provided slippers for you but none of these slippers fit me and I don’t exactly have big feet. Ian is 6’6″ and wears size 14 shoes as you can imagine none of these slippers fit him. Here is a picture of Ian wearing them.
We all just relaxed for an hour or so until they called us up to dinner. Food at many Ryokans is a big attraction and dinner and breakfast were included in the price of our room. They had a brochure in our room that had pictures of some of the dishes they serve and many of them were fish which had me quite worried as I am not a fan. When they called us up to dinner this is what awaited us. Click here for a picture of the dining room.
Those are whole fish on sticks next to the fire and some stew roasting on the fire. There were also some Hors’ Dourves waiting for us, I am not sure what they were but I didn’t particularily like them. I did try them all though.
Over the course of the dinner they cooked us each a scallop (I tried it, ate about half of it), a prawn skewer thing (ate it all, not too bad) and a chicken skewer (yummy). The fish on the stick in the first picture was actually really good and I ate the whole thing, the man serving us didn’t really speak much english but he said it was japanese salmon. The stew in the first picture was delicious if you avoided the plethora of mushrooms in it. Overall the dinner was quite good and it was a really neat experience. We all walked away very full and by the end, very tired. After dinner we all just headed back to our rooms.
I watched a bit of japanese tv hoping to find see something funny or weird, I didn’t have much luck but I saw a comercial with Cameron Diaz. I eventually just fell asleep, it was a fairly early night.