Traditional Ryokan at Rendaji

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June 8th 2007
Published: June 8th 2007
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Despite the rain, we decided to leave Hakone early in order to be able to explore our next destination, Shimoda! Instead of taking the bus through the winding mountain road which will take about an hour plus to reach Odawara, we chose the more comfortable train ride. Back to Gora where we bought more souvenirs and local specialties and caught a train to Odawara. Initial plan was to explore the vibrant Odawara town center but we decided against it when we found out that the next train will be 2hrs later! As we were expecting a long train ride, we rushed to buy our bento sets before boarding the train bound for Izu Peninsula. Japanese bento sets aren’t just attractive in their packaging, but very delicious too. Dear chose a bento with pork slices marinated in sweet sauce while I went for the set which had many varieties of dishes in small quantity. Yummy yummy!!

For the next two nights, our accommodation is a very traditional Ryokan situated in Rendaji which is a train stop from Shimoda. Rendaji is a quiet town located in a valley. Upon arriving at Kur Haus Ishibashi, we were greeted by the beautiful architecture of the building and the grand lobby. The lady owner who was dressed in Kimono could speak a bit of English while the male housekeeper tried his best to assist us although there was a slight language barrier. Their friendliness made the place very homely. We were also very impressed by the sheer size of the place and our room! We could actually do a 100meters sprint from the lobby to our room! Authentic and old, but this place definitely exhibits a charm of its own, reflecting a rich history! Unlike the simple rooms which we stayed in Tokyo and Hakone, our room at Kur was very spacious and had ensuite bathroom. Right in the middle of the room was a big table where small snacks and a tea set were placed. It is here where we first drank green tea prepared from tea leaves which are much more fragrant than those made from powder or sachets!

As there was still ample time before dinner, we decided to go explore Shimoda. Feeling a bit hungry, we hunted down an authentic sushi place which was frequent by the locals. Without English nor picture menu, we could only try our luck and order according to our instincts. The chef and old granny who served us could not speak English. Sushi was topped with semi-cooked red fish which was their Shimoda specialty. The fish was slightly cooked on the outside but raw inside. Sashimi was presented in 2 pretty shells. Without any idea if the sashimi was some clams or snails, we could only hope for the best. The meat was chewy and crunchy while the intestines were very bitter! Not our favourite but we were gamed enough for a try!

After spending a few hours exploring Shimoda town, we decided its time to head back for dinner at the Ryokan. Our anticipation ran high as we were both looking forward to this meal, a traditional Japanese meal prepared by an authentic ryokan, and we were told that such meals will not disappoint! We were taking a short rest in our room when someone came to inform us that our dinner was ready in the private dining room next door. Wow! Wow! It was a feast of seafood! The entire table was laid with many beautifully decorated dishes! We could not wait to tuck in! Sashimi, tempura, crab, crayfish, seafood hot pot, chawamushi… We simply didn’t know where to start! All of them tasted delicious and the prawn sashimi with blue eggs stood out, and tasted fantastic! The dinner though expensive was definitely worth it! Superb!

When we returned to our room after dinner, our futons were nicely laid out for us. Top service! We felt so pampered! In order to better digest our satisfying dinner, we explored the large premise of this wonderful ryokan. Recreation room was well equipped with massage chairs, therapy stones path and piano. It was also here where we played our 1st game of table tennis against each other! Their onsen was impressive too. I enjoyed the onsen which allowed one to lay down with a head rest. It was so comfortable that I could have fallen sleep there!

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