Atami and a Japanese Onsen
Wow! It’s been a long time. I feel rusty….especially since this post is about a trip that I took over a month ago now. At the beginning of December I went to an Onsen in Atami and then to Kamakura.
|Japanese girls are possibly even more obsessed with food than American girls. From left to right: Carolin, Hiromi, Atsuko, Junko, Satomi, all enjoy “fried something on a stick”…just like in ‘Murrrica.|
This was my first experience navigating the trains of Japan alone. And by ‘navigating the trains of Japan alone’, I definitely mean that my friends gave me very specific information about which trains to get on, which stations to get off at, and the exact times of those trains and stops. And a friendly Japanese man who spoke decent English also helped me for one leg of the journey (it required three or four transfers total to get to where I was meeting my friends). So. Almost independently. Except not. Whatever, I’m still proud of myself.
The last leg of the train ride revealed some real sized Japanese mountains along the coastline, and I was very touristy and obnoxious, taking photos out of the train’s windows. It actually reminded me of being in southern Italy a little bit, and Atami itself was a tiny bit reminiscent of Naples, mostly because of the steep, winding streets, the buildings being so close together, and the city being nestled between the seaside and the mountains. The mountains which I can see from Ota strike me as “impressive hills” rather than mountains….but, I really am not sure where I have any right to be a mountain snob, as I’m from Wisconsin.
My friends met me at the train station and we made our way back to the hotel. The road down to the hotel was so steep that an old man who was walking behind us came suddenly tumbling down the hill, clearly unable to catch himself. We stopped him from rolling any further down and helped him to his feet. A nearby shop owner came out and talked to the Japanese girls, and escorted him inside his shop, where I assume he made sure he was alright and called a doctor for him.
The hotel was very serene; our room’s floor was entirely made of tatami mats, with floor to ceiling windows looking out toward the ocean. The hallways of the hotel had real rock faces along one side. The hotel room was discounted because the outside onsens were closed for remodeling, so we could only use the inside ones.
An “onsen” is the Japanese word for natural hot spring, and they build a lot of these resorts and hotels and spas around them. (Some places you stay overnight, some you can jut visit for a couple hours if you l
ike). Because Japan has so many active volcanoes, there are thousands of hot springs scattered throughout the country. The only thing I’ve ever really encountered that I can compare these to are the public baths in Budapest…but those are still quite different. They are akin to hot tubs only in that the water is hot.
All in all, very enjoyable, I’d definitely do it again. I’ve included pictures of the meal we had in Atami as well…I don’t remember what I ate…I may not have even known what some of it was at the time, but I tried everything. The Japanese girls did the ordering, and the served a sweet house plum wine with the meal that was delicious.