Published: November 22nd 2010September 17th 2010
After slumming it for a couple of months, we were definitely due a treat and we decided to stay in a traditional Ryokan for an evening. We went to Kurokawa, which is a small town full of Ryokans and onsens, half an hour bus journey from Mt Aso. The town was surrounded by trees and a river bisected the town with onsens on either side. We went exploring as soon as we got there, after our guide took our luggage and told us what to do in the town. It took us 30 mins to explore the town and then we ended up going to another Ryokan to experience the onsens there. By now you'd think we were pros, at the beginning it was just me and James in the mixed onsen with a lovely view of the forest and the river running through it. We were then joined by a couple of old men who did have a fondness of posing like Greek statues. I at this point felt extremely uncomfortable; I did not read the fundamental guidelines for mixed onsen etiquette. I thought being in a hot bath with 5 naked males would be an experience worth remembering. Not
this one. After failing to feel comfortable in the mixed onsens I went to the girls area which was lovely I had a whole scented bath tub to myself and the view was extremely beautiful, woodland, river, sunny weather all from a hot bath. After a relaxing bath session there was a sudden need for tobacco which we could only find in a vending machine, we asked a local if he had a card to use the vending machines and he said no and that he also didn't know where any was sold, then he ran off, which we thought was a tad weird. I know I can be scary but for someone to run down a very steep hill at top speed is quite worrying for your esteem. He then went into a shop and headed back up the hill, thinking he had gone the wrong way I smiled politely ready for him to pass us when he said in a slightly exhausted voice "the shop down the hill sells cigarettes" we exchanged thank you and pleasantries and he headed back down the hill.
Another example on how nice people are here.
After we explored the town fully
for an hour we waited to be picked up to head to the Sanga Ryokan. Our Ryokan was similar to others a nice large wooden building in the middle of a very attractive den, with other lovely cottage types wooden outhouses dotted about the surrounding area. Our room was typically Japanese style with tatami mats, sliding doors, a balcony and tea making components to make lovely green tea, not as good as green tea in china though. Outside our room was a small stream so a lovely setting. Dinner was served at 7pm sharp, we had a sharp and strict women who was our ryokan guide and she did not speak any English. After dinner we explored our hideaway, there was a fire room with a fire slowing burning away which was a perfect haven for smoking. It quite strange as you see loads of people in their bath robes around the ryokan like a spa but in a woodland.
We then head back for dinner. This is where the fun begins....
We had raw fish, vegetables, mitso soup, raw house meat, cooked beef steak, cooked fish, pickles, tempura and fruit. The food was definitely different and the
cooked meat and veg was really nice and the 1st dish of quail eggs was lovely but the rest was just weird. Especially the raw fish, house meat and raw fish eggs. Everything was presented really nicely in typical Japanese ware.
It ended up being a 12 course meal. We thought we finished at 9 and went for a cigarette but got disappointingly looks from our guide after she brought round 10 in. After desserts we went for another onsen dip by the time we got back someone had tided the room and put our futons out.
In the morning the breakfast fun started. The breakfast was the most random thing I have ever tried I could cope with all the new things we tried on a evening but for breakfast you want something that resembles breakfast. We had rice, steamed vegetables included carrots, broccoli and potatoes, mitso soup, cooked fish with the head intact, crazy raw fish and hot mustard paste. The only thing that I was happy to see was the egg which happened to be a raw egg. So as much as I tried to enjoy the Japanese breakfast I couldn't, especially when we had most
of it the night before. Most of it I did try but there was not a lot of scoffing. After chilling in the Ryokan we headed to Fukuoka where as soon as I got off the train I went to KFC to order some stable, greasy but known western food, they were was also selling beer which I was extremely happy about....I mean what can be more scummy than a big KFC bucket and a beer, but to my disappointment the beer only come in one kind - non-alcoholic. Rubbish!!!!!!
There are more photos below