Day 1&2 Arrival at Sakura Onsen
Early rise today with taxi to Manchester Airport at 4am. to start a 4 week stay in Japan going on an 11 1/2 hr flight to Tokyo airport. The next flight was to Aomori and a shuttle bus to Sakura Onsen, our resting place for the night.
We arrived at the Sakura Onsen at 1530. That is 28 hrs, 3 flights and 2 bus journeys after leaving home in Clitheroe.
We met Kenichi and Daisuke upon arrival and set out on fixing our hire bikes up for the days ahead. The smell of sulphur is pretty strong and some would say offensive to the olfactory organs others may say, ’What a pong’. Excited to get closer to the source of this stink made us get ready for a soak in the Onsen, which Tom said was a muddy colour and looked like it contained material soaked up from thousands of bodies being in it. I assured him it was the natural water from the underground spring containing the essential elements which define it as an Onsen. I must say it was pretty hot and immersion was taken quite slowly until the skin became crimson.
For those being on their first visit to Japan it was something of an eye opener to stay in a traditional hostel called a Ryokan. These are quite basic establishments with wooden floors, flimsy walls with sliding doors to your room covered in tatami mats and a low table in the middle and chairs with no legs - have you ever? On the table is a flask of hot water and tea pot and cups ready for your refreshing dose of green tea. All very different to our way of living and very quaint and pleasant ( in my view). Whilst we were at dinner our beds were made up on the floor consisting of a thin 2” mattress with a duvet on top and a bean filled pillow of hardness which can only be measured on the Rockwell Scale.
The dinner was a banquet of the standard we are used to in Japan and which can only be described as amazing. We each had a tray filled with many small intricate dishes filled with all manner of vegetables, fish and meat. We also had two burners heated by small night ’candles like’ elements, with no wick, which soon had
the food cooking. After this delicious and quite filling meal we were ready for bed after missing so much sleep so most of us were in bed before 8pm. However, this had a pentsince I woke up at 4am and struggled to get back off again, eventually getting up at 6am. The sun was shining and it looked like a great day of good weather ahead.
Good Japanese breakfast of Miso soup, vegetables, rice, fish,fish,fish and more fish now ready for off into the beautiful countryside on our trusty steads.
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