5/16 – Well, there’s nothing to describe the experience of soaking in a hot, spring-fed sulphur-rich bath. I felt like a boiled egg, and smelled like one too! The water was so hot that I had to mix some cold tap water into the bath before I could get in (no other ladies present at the time). Unfortunately, the tap water comes from the spring too, so there was no way to rinse off the sulphur smell. We were assured that the water was drinkable, and even brushed our teeth with it – one can get used to anything!
This guesthouse is very much like our last, with thin futons, bean pillows and fish for supper and breakfast. I’m told that the good posture of the Japanese is thanks to thin futons. With a nod to the Western guests, our breakfast included instant coffee, and also ham and eggs, eaten with chopsticks, of course!
We are staying at Yunomine Onsen for three nights, as the Kumono Kodo trail offers several challenging (that means steep) hikes in this area.
Our hostess packed us a lunch to eat along the trail. What could it be?
Yummy! Three rice balls – one wrapped in nori (seaweed), one wrapped in mustard leaves, and pickled squash.
This area is the home of the Shinto Hongu Taisha shrine. It is the first of the three major shrines we will visit this week. It boasts the largest torii (shrine entrance gate) in Japan. Here’s our first glimpse of the torii from atop the mountain. Can you spot it?:
Here’s the gate up close:
The stairway to the shrine (up and up again!):
And the shrine itself. The faithful queue up to ring a bell, clap their hands together in a rhythmic pattern, and offer a silent or spoken prayer.
The symbol of this shrine is the three-legged crow, with one leg to represent each of the three major deities.
Prayers are written on paper or wood, and hung at the shrine.
We hiked back past flooded rice fields with newly planted seedlings.
Back at our guesthouse, we enjoyed another bath and changed into our matching kimonos. It’s fun to dress alike!
We shared supper conversation with Hank and Jose from the Netherlands. Good supper and new friends!
5/17 – Hiking in the other direction today. A bit rainy in the morning, which makes climbing slippery rocks even more exciting.
We neglected to ask for a packed lunch today, so we thought we’d buy something to eat in town. Turns out the only items for sale were raw eggs sold in mesh bags.
The shopkeeper conveyed to us with no English that we were to tie a rope to the bag and lower the eggs into the hot spring to cook them. He even provided an origami basket to collect the shells, and a packet of salt. With some canned coffee, the best lunch we’ve had all week!
A fine hiking day.