Friday, March 9, 2012

Minobu Shimobe Onsen- 裕貴屋旅館

Meeting some old friends/co-workers

DSCF0009I have been in and out of contact with one of the teachers I used to work with when I started teaching junior high school classes about 5 ago. My friend stopped teaching because he was burnt out on teaching and decided he really wanted to pursue a career in farming and agriculture instead. He has been training for the past few years learning methods and doing some apprentice work for various farms across Japan. Ever since he quit teaching he’s kept in touch and has met with me once a year for dinner since. He is the first and only Japanese friend my age that I been fortunate enough to have made over the past 5 years living in Japan.

DSCF0008Usually when my friend calls me up out of the blue he invites me to dinner with one other older teacher we used to work together with. It’s nice to catch up and find out what each of us has done over the past year. It also is a great opportunity to see how well my progress in Japanese studies is going as all of our conversations are in Japanese. This year not only did I get invited to dinner but also invited to stay overnight with them at a hotel/Japanese style bath house with them.

DSCF0007We stayed at the Yukiya Hotel in which is a tired-old establishment in Shmobe Onsen which is deep in the mountains of Minobu, Yamanashi prefecture. The night we agreed on meeting up happened to be very rainy so I didn’t really get to enjoy the scenery but we spent nearly all of our time inside the hotel anyhow.

Like most Japanese hot spring (onsen) towns, Shimobe is full of old rundown buildings. Usually the exterior isn’t as well kept as the interior so looks are usually deceiving. Our hotel was no exception with its very mushy, creaky wood floors and time warped interior that made it feel like I somehow went back 30 or more years into the past.

DSCF0002Appearances aside, the hotel was actually very comfortable and accommodating. The hotel we stayed at had 4 separate baths including an outdoor private bath you could reserve for you and your honey, in our case 3 dudes… Yeah. XD

It’s been maybe 6 years since the last time I bathed in a Japanese style bath with other men. I’ve done it a few times with my wife but its different since we’re married and comfortable with each other. Plus, this kind of bathing isn’t quite a part of my culture so it’s a little jarring to do it.DSCF0001 Especially now that I’ve let myself go just a little because I have gone to a more sedentary life than I probably should have.

ANYHOW, all three of us talked and drank throughout the whole night and into the early morning. We went into all kinds of topics, even how to fix the education system which was particularly exciting for me. Our oldest teacher friend brought a huge duffel bag full of booze which we happily guzzled as we chatted the night away. By the time the booze ran out we were pretty much in our futons anyhow so we just went to sleep.

DSCF0006The next day, I woke up with a pretty fierce hangover but I was still able to function well enough to drive myself home after eating a hearty breakfast served to us in the hotel’s restaurant on the 1st floor. By the time we left and parted ways, the rain had given way to a patchy cloudy early spring morning. I managed to snap up the few photos I decorated this particular post with.

DSCF0004From what I saw of Shimobe Onsen, it seems pretty nice and typical of a mountain onsen town. If you’re into traditional Japanese baths and hotels, this place may be worth hitting. There is a train station not too far down the hill from it and I think shuttle busses are available to take you up there. I drive everywhere so I really can’t be sure. One thing I can be sure about is that it probably looks awesome during the autumn changing of the leaves in the surrounding forest as well as Cherry blossom season. When I went all I saw were partly dead trees and the remnants of winter. Oh well, I don’t live too far away so there always could be a next time I suppose. Smile

Here are a couple of videos of the interior and exterior.

Exterior of Yuukiya Hotel
Interior of Yuukiya Hotel

No comments:

Post a Comment