We met at school. Walked to the train station. There was a farmer's market on the street we were walking on, and Stephanie (one of my classmates) wanted to buy an orange. They were all in buckets of a half dozen or so, so she asked how much for one orange. Lady said that she couldn't buy just one. Meanwhile, she is filling buckets from larger boxes, so it is not like there was an exact number of oranges to make up a set number of buckets. This seems to be a very Japanese response. If you want to do something outside of the process, it just isn't done.
Took 2 trains to get there. Took about an hour and a half, when you include the 15 minute wait between trains. Arrived at the onsen station and decided to do a hike before soaking. There is a famous temple somewhat nearbye which we thought we would hike to. Heard times varying from an hour hike each way to 5 hours round trip. Figured we would be faster than normal, so would have no problem doing this and making it back in time for a soak (we were told the onsen closes at 3, so we wanted to be back by 2 so as to have enough time).
Hiked up. Turned out to be 2 hours to get to the temple. All uphill (or so it seemed). Photo of the hiking trail is below. The woman in red (Ann) was one hell of a trooper - she had never done a hike nearly as long as this one before, and probably never wants to do another hike again. Actually, she probably will play it safe and never even go sightseeing with us again...
The temple was rather anticlimactic - enough so that we actually started hiking down the other side after reaching the top, as we figured what we saw wasn't the temple. Perhaps there was more that we missed. Below is a photo of the temple from a distance - definitely a pretty area, even if the temple wasn't that much to see.
Hiked back down on the road (rather than the trail) so we could save some time. Stephanie had her thumb out the entire time hoping that someone would give us a ride, but no one stopped. Not sure if in Japan they know what a thumb out means or if hitch hiking is even legal. We did finally make it to town on foot and were really looking forward to the onsen.
We had thought it was one large onsen in town, where we found out later that it was many small onsens (basically each restaurant or hotel was an onsen). The town map showed a devil's picture, which is what we thought was the onsen. Everything was labelled in the kanji (chinese) characters, so we couldn't read the maps. Only after walking all over town (and probably through a few people's back yards) did we figure out about the onsens. Below is a picture of the river running through town. Basically each of the buildings next to the river contains an onsen.
After we figured this out, we stopped at one to ask if we could go in, and the lady there that only people who stayed there or ate a meal there could, and we were too late for a meal (though we were hungry). Asked her where there was one we could go in to that late in the day, and she directed us to one called Yu Yu. We walked around a bit and found this one. Saw that it had a standard swimming pool (complete with people doing laps) and gym. We didn't have bathing suits, so figured we couldn't soak in an onsen there. So off we went. Side note - I found out later from my host family that Yu Yu does have a standard onsen there, so we could have gone in there.
We decided to take the train back to Gamagori (where we did the onsen last time) and go in there. So off we went. Not how or where we expected to end up soaking at, but the onsen sure felt nice on our tired legs.
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