Friday 23 May 2008

we are back

We have had a great long weekend with my best mate and her hubby. BabyEbi has been so excited because he knew we were going to take a trip on a steam train. The train from Kumagaya takes about an hour and half to get to Nagatoro, long enough for it still to be exciting but not too long that it becomes boring, BabyEbi LOVED it.

When we got to Nagatoro we found a lovely place to have lunch, they didn't have a kids menu but luckily babyEbi prefers 'adult' food anyway and was quite happy to sample a bit of everyone elses dinner. After lunch we wandered down to the river and took a boat ride in the flat bottomed boat, we hadn't had much rain the last few days so the river wasn't too fast. The guy doing the punting was cracking all kinds of jokes but sadly I didn't understand most of them, it was a nice ride though.

Where I used to live in Iwate they had a similar ride through a gorge but the punter sang, the ride was much calmer and longer so I was a bit disappointed with this one. BabyEbi still loved it though. After the ride a bus takes you back to where you started and we had a look through the shops, I had a look for some postcards but I could only find packs that included postcards of flowers, I was looking more for scenery shots, oh well. Many of the shops had little food samples so we were trying to get my friends to try everything, I think babyEbi set a good example since he will try anything.
Then we took a local train a few more stops along the line to get to the place we had booked into for the night. The ryokan (traditional Japanese style hotel) really is in the middle of no-where, very peaceful. I suppose the English equivilant would be a farmhouse B&B, it is run by a couple of old farmers and the collect all the food locally and cook it themselves. The mountain vegetable tempura is fantastic. They were kind enough to bring BabyEbi a tofu burger and side dishes even though I ate most of the burger and he ate my fish!
When we arrived we went to take a bath, one should be fulled scrubbed before dinner and it's not as straight forward as it sounds....
First you change into your yukata (simple kimono)
Go over to the bath area, there is a sign to say if it is occupied or not.
Taking that is is free, you flip the sign over to say it is in use then go in and take off your yukata and place it in the basket provided.
Now, go and sit on the small stool and wash yourself from head to toe, scrub all over, there is a bowl to put water in and soap/shampoo is provided.
Rinse well
Now, take the covers off the bath tub (they keep the water hot), get in the tub and relax. The tub is made of wood and it is all outside, but sheltered from the elements, there is a lovely view of the hills from the tub, sorry, I forgot to take my camera to the bath with me ;o)

Onsens (hot springs) are really popular in Japan and this is the proper way to do it, it is also the same in the home. We all use the same bath water, the bath water is really for soaking and relaxing in, not for getting clean. We then use our water in the washing machine.

Anyway, after we had all scrubbed up we went for dinner, very traditional meal with several small dishes, again babyEbi wanted to try everything....

After dinner we went to relax in the room, BabyEbi went to sleep and we watched some typical Japanese TV, I think we all fell asleep around 9.30PM!

The next day we had a nice breakfast then headed back to Omiya, we had to take a local train to Kumagaya which took forever. We met up with another friend for lunch then headed off to karaoke, I wasn't sure how BabyEbi would like it, but he was up there dancing and singing, good fun was had by all.

So, my mates have gone off travelling for a few days, we will meet up with them again next week when they get back to Tokyo.


  1. LOL! I'm glad the sprog is being pushed into karaoke at such a tender age!

    And I really must take you up on your invite - some Monday after mid-June maybe?

  2. eh?! nooo. mid-june, this june!


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