Saturday, March 6, 2010

Japan-Tuesday- Ginzan Onsen

blue outside 5

We were up early (well, I was up early, because I couldn't sleep, and puttered around writing and editing photos until Tim got up at about 6 am. We hung out in the room until it was time to go down to the hot springs (We are pretty sure that each room is ascribed with a certain time to go) The hot springs go like this: you go down, get undressed, completely shower yourself with soap/shampoo/conditioner, and then rinse completely off before you get into the just shy of scalding springs. the temperature,  is what I am always going for when I draw my own bath- it was amazing.  the first part of the spring is inside- you get used to the water and regulate your body temperature, then there is a little door that leads to outside, sitting in the hot spring with snow all around you, looking out on the hills, is really relaxing.  They have another level, for individual sitting and relaxing (better for laying down) which I tried, but did not like as much as the first way.

Tim and I met back in the room (bathing is separate gendered)  and got dressed for breakfast.

Breakfast was another multi course affair, with fish, a poached egg that must have been slow poached- the yolk was amazing, rich, and the perfect combination of not runny at all, but not dry- it was a deep orange.  Rice, steamed vegetables and pork, miso soup, and  sweet jello-like Jellies. I wasn't sure how much I would like the fish for breakfast, but it was actually my favorite part.
Steamed food  Steamed veggies and pork for breakfast. 

After breakfast we headed out to go check out the town again, only this time, there wasn't much open, since it was nine o' clock.  Here is where I made my first tactical error. About five inches of snow had fallen the day before, and I decided to wear my crocs. ( I will interject here, at TIm's insistence, that he had suggested we borrow the boots that were provided by the ryokan, and I thought I'd be fine in the Crocs). The roads had been plowed, and were fine, for the most part, until we got to go up this hill at the end of the village, to go check out the waterfall.  Going uphill was fine,  we saw some Japanese teenagers coming down the hill, (some of the girls with heels on!) and everything seemed okay.  When we got to the top, took a couple of pictures, and then began our descent down, which was proving to be much more slippery than the way up. I was holding onto the chain railing, and slowly, slowly making my way down when "Swish, BAM!" I hit the ground. My feet had slipped out from under me.  My right hand shot out to break my fall, my left grabbed onto the chain that connected the fence posts, and I felt a sudden pain in my wrist.  I sat there for a second, to compose myself, got up, and proceeded to inch down the incline again.  Two minutes later, "Swish, BAM!"  I hit the ground again, with my hand again breaking my fall. The pain was worse this time, and as I sat on the ground, I thought that I could not go the remaining 25 feet where the path was the most treacherous, As I was sitting there, my ass slowly growing colder, I realized that since i was already at a 40 degree angle, I could use the path as a slide, and make my way down that way.  Which I, while being laughed at by Tim, proceeded to do. Once the scariest part of the walk down was done, I stood up, braced myself, and inched down the rest of the walkway.  I safely made it down to the bottom of the hill, as relief flooded through me.  I was supremely grateful that I fell towards the mountain, and not over the edge of the path, which would have resulted in about a forty foot drop where I am certain that I would have probably broken my head and several other various and sundry bones.
Have successfully navigated the hill! 
After making it down the hill!

We made our way back to the ryokan, and I iced my wrist, while it swelled, and I jury rigged an ace bandage out of a robe tie.  (and took some Advil)

We spent the rest of the morning hanging out, and reading, and listening to music, taking a nap mid morning.  At about one, we were hungry, so headed back down into the village to see if the Italian cafe was open (it was not, and we could not decode the cafe hours on the side of the building)  so we headed to the end of the village, where they had something called "currybread"  which was a fried dough, with a curry paste in it, that was really delicious. You can either get it plain (that's the way Tim had it_ or split in half and filled with lettuce, cucumber, a mayo based sauce, and tomato (which is the way I had it). ours came with tea and coffee, and we sat and relaxed and ate.
Currybread sandwich

Full of delicious currybread, we decided to do a little shopping at the stores in the village, and pick up some souveniers, then headed back to the ryokan. We hung out there for the afternoon, reading, listening to music, and watching episodes of the West Wing until it was time to go to dinner.

Dinner was really good- the courses were:
dinner night 2

Started off with a shot of sweet sake and we had cold sake to drink with dinner. There was Tofu skin with wasabi and soy sauce

Shabu shabu- Hot pot with thin sliced beef, tofu, vegetables,  that had two kinds of dipping sauce, one ponzu, one sesame based, that you dip your food into once it came out of the hot pot.  The sesame sauce was good, but the ponzu was where it was at, a little acidic, and salty from the soy, it made the beef sing.

There was another composed plate of five things this evening a container with tiny baby shrimp,  a leaf with a gelled custard inside (which was AMAZING), Pork, three balls of various colors which I'm not sure what it was, and dried fish over a fruit of some kind, which Tim and I could not identify but was in a kind of thick green sauce, and was really refreshing and nice.Five things

Then the sashimi, which was as incredible as the night before, but with a different white fish (the rest was the same), nestled in next to a lemon slice.  I am usually not a fan of wasabi at home, but here? I love it. it's perfect with the sashimi, and mellow, the brief hit of heat that marries with the sweetness of the fish.

After that we had steamed crab legs, which were sweet, and lovely. They were cut in such an efficient way, that there was a crab utensil on our table, that was able to get the crab meat directly from the leg.

The next dish was a whole fish, with a gingered pickled item,  The fish was good, if hard to navigate. I suspect that you may have been able to eat the whole thing, but I settled for doing the best I could and avoiding the tail and head. It was warm, and rich, and delicious.

After that, miso soup, which was different from all the rest we've had, with a thicker, more cloying texture. It was good- rich, but good.

Then white rice with picked vegetables, one (that looked like a thin, tiny green eggplant, packed some serious heat) I don't think that I've talked about the rice before- So I should here. I am not a huge rice fan, usually. I mean, I can take it or leave it, and I'll eat it if it comes with a dish, but it's never something I seek out.  The rice here has made me change my mind about rice. Sticky, and just a breath before sweet, it is the perfect thing to end the meal with before dessert.  I could eat bowl after bowl of it.
breakfast rice

And a shrimp ball, in broth, which texturally reminded me of Matzoh ball soup, and was savory, and delicious.  Dessert was Ice cream that tasted like a fruit sorbet- Tim and I guessed Lychee, but we could have been wrong. It was light, and sweet, and excellent for cleansing the palate.

After dinner, I managed not to just crash face first into bed and fall asleep (it may have helped that we split a bottle of cold sake as opposed to each getting our own bottle of hot sake) Watched a couple episodes of the West wing, and went to bed.

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