I am going to review Japan trip plus accommodation called "Ryokung". At first I aim to write only about hotel but, during the way, we stop by many places. So, I've got lots of beautiful views to share with you guys.
We travel across 3 provinces. May I use image from Tutor Tu to explain.
Start at Tokyo (Heart no.1). Then cross to Tochigi province (Heart no.2). End at Fukushima province (Heart no.3).
From Google Map, total distance is around 300 km. Transportation for this trip is train and personal car. According to the map, it takes almost 4 hours but we plan to visit beauty spots along the way. So, we will go slowly.
Start from hotel in Tokyo, Gotanda Station district. Let me start at this station.
Get on the train on Yamonote line and get off at Shinagawa station. Then follow the sign of platform no.5 in order to get on Ueno-Tokyo line. Get off at Utsunomiya.
After that we rent a car for convenience. As far as I know, there is a train to our destination but I don't know which line and where the station is.
After we get a car, we use the route Nichi-en Momiji line.
During the way, we stop sporadically. Since we are not in hurry, we visit all interesting places. Once going up the hill, you can see leaves changing color.
First location is Taiko Oroshi waterfall, in Tochigi province.
From parking lots, follow the sign for 100m.
Anyway, it is a steep 100m.
The closer to waterfall, the colder weather. If you are coming during winter, I recommend to prepare the cloth. It's really cold. I thought it would be little colder than Tokyo. So, I didn't prepare much. Turns out it's freezing.
This place is a small waterfall. Don't have to guess how cold water is.
Finish from waterfall. We continue to our journey.
The higher we go, the more leaves change color and the weather is freezing.............
Our second destination is still in Tochigi province which is Shira Taki waterfall. It is a small one, even smaller than the first place, but the view is more beautiful. More importantly, there is a sweetshop.
Waterfall is beside the shop (Once the leader calls to go inside the shop, everyone ignores the waterfall).
Let's see what we eat. Some sweetmeats to fight with coldness. From the image below;
1. Oshiruko (Azuki Red Bean + Mochi) Taste like Thai red bean.
2. Miso Konnyaku (Konnyaku topped with Miso) Chewy like Konjac. However, it comes in square shape. It is insipid but get the taste from sauce. Have you tried a product called Konyakky? The name may convert from Konnyaku.
3. Konnyaku Dango (Konnyaku ball with mustard) This one is similar to previous menu but it is made as a ball. Dip with mustard. If dip too little, it would be tasteless. While dip too much, it could make you cry.
Eating together with hot tea can make us feel warmer.
This is the view outside. The landscape is better than previous one because this place is higher. Leaves change color clearly. You can see top view.
In peak time, it should be splendid.
We spend quite long time here before moving to next place. As I mentioned before, the higher we go, the more beautiful leaves we see. Long distance doesn't make us bored at all. Here's the view of sideways. There are many nice spots we want to stop but the road is not appropriate for parking on the edge.
Now we are at another location called Hunter Mountain Shiobara. This place is suitable in snow time. It is where tourists come to play ski. The wide field you see will turn to totally white color when it snows. You can fully enjoy skiing.
Without snow, we see two elders sitting under the tree.
From previous view, if we turn back, it is a house in style of ... of ... whatever. Inside is souvenir shop and lovely sweetshop. I buy 1 snack. (I recommend to try. The price is not over JPY500. You can eat during the way.)
This place offers elevator to view point on the top but the fare is quite expensive. If you come at this period, you may waste money. We skip at this point.
Continue the journey along highway no.400 and change to no.121.
Due to short cut way, we face with this curvy road ...
Checking with GPS, we gotta go with it for long distance. (Are we in Pai?)
Ignore the curve. We take photos during straight way.
Next stop is called Tajima Michi-no-eki (Michi-no-eki means road station). It is a rest area beside highway which is similar to Thai's tourist center. However, this one is better. There are shops selling vegetables, fruits and local stuffs which sellers come by themselves. (Not sure if there is rental fee or not.). The vegetables and fruits are fresh and cheap, unlike in Thailand. That one's too commercial.
We buy things to eat (again). Continue the journey towards highway no. 121 where we find leaves changing color beautifully. We have to stop and take photos.
After satisfying with colorful trees, we continue to Shimogo town by following the signs.
Last stop before going to hotel is Tou no Hetsuri located in downtown of Shimogo province.
Parking lots are provided both outside and inside. The inside one is quite narrow, one way road. I recommend to park at outside and walk. Would be more convenient.
The steep way is for walking and car which you can see it's little narrow. Cars have to confusedly make way.
Generous space in side.
While walking, we find this thing. Does it look familiar? It is the same Konnyaku we ate at waterfall. (If you can't remember, scroll up.) The previous one was boiled but this one is grilled. Taste is the same but grilled one is more chewy. I personally prefer this style.
Next to Konnyaku is grilled fish. I was confused how they eat. Walking and nibbling. Everyone does so. Okay ... give me one stick.
Tou no Hetsuri is a sharply-sloping cliff occurring from natural erosion. Below is a river with a bridge connecting between river banks. The bridge itself is acceptable but the rope is swinging. Everyone please carefully use your consciousness and feet. (Always exaggerate)
From hanging bridge, we move to our accommodation towards the town of onsen.
Following GPS, here we are at Higashiyama Onsen.
Parking lots is located separately from hotel (which we don't know where). We park in front of hotel for loading luggage. Then staff takes our car to park.
Higashiyama Onsen is located in Aizu-wakamatsu town. Hotel consists of 2 parts/buildings; Chiyotaki (locates on higher area and gives top view) and Shintaki (provides village view). Choose your favorite view from following website http://www.kutsurogijuku.jp/english/index.html.
We stay at Shintaki. Check-in time is 3.00PM and 11.00AM for ckeck out.
Breakfast and dinner are already included in room charge (Food comes in kaiseki style).
After loading luggage, we survey inside. On first floor, check-in area isn't wide which is separated into check-in counter and sofa set for resting. Also, there is one little souvenir shop in the corner.
Next to sofa set is clothing and embellishment zone where allows female guests to choose yukata. There are multiple patterns; plain fabric, printed fabric, spotted and camouflage (The last one is kidding). I keep choosing till I get dazed. However, my friend says "The color looks like my bed sheet".
Satisfy with choosing the cloth. Go back to check in. While waiting, hot tea is served as welcome drink which greatly matches with cold weather (In weather like this, giving us whole pot would be excellent).
After check in, let's do the survey. This building has 5 floors with 1 elevator next to check-in counter. Beside elevator is another kind of dress for guests. Pick one each.
And our room is 4...2...7.
Once opening the door, it is slightly dark. There are 2 doors on the left, 1 on the right and 1 at front (At first, I thought the front is wall). Bedroom is on either left or right.
One side next to the door is decorated with tiny ornaments. Another side is a cabinet with with slippers.
Open each door orderly. The first door on left side is toilet with warm seat system, as usual.
Following door is bedding cabinet. If you feel cold, bring it on.
Done with left side. On the right, at first I thought it is bedroom for sure because I thought the room has only space I see. Once open the door ...
Oh....Nope. It is bathroom which clearly separates between wet and dry area.
First part is washbasin equipped with full amenities (Regrettably the body lotion is super aromatic).
Wet area is blocked by small door. Inside has small bathtub and tiny stool to sit while showering.
Bedroom is behind the front door that I thought it was a wall.
It has large space enough for flipping 3 rounds.
Room size is classified by mat (8, 10 and 12 mats). We book 10-mat-size with private bathroom. The 8 mat type is smaller and use shared bathroom.
Wardrobe is round the corner.
At the really end is sofa set for 2 people for sipping tea and watching view.
Let's survey inside the room. On the table is hotel brochure and snack. What should I call it? There is welcome drink already. So, I'll call it welcome eat then. It tastes like the olden Pele snack (Do you recognize this brand?).
Beside the window is kettle and equipment for brew up (I didn't try).
For dinner, you have to inform your preferred time; 6.00PM, 6.30PM or 7.00PM. I guess they classify into each period for ease of preparing and avoiding crowded dining room. Dining room is on the same direction as onsen but it's at the end. Walk along the dim way.
Inside restaurant, I take photo only at the counter. It is where breakfast served. There are some guests inside, so I didn't photograph.
Let's see our dinner set, one set per person. At first I think it's not enough but ... hold ... on... Don't underestimate.
Menu is also provided. You can read if you want to. Personally I want to but I can't read.
There are 12 menus in total. I will describe one by one. The food is mainly focus on vegetables, either boiled or steamed, which is healthy.If you like vegetables, you'll be happy.
1. Some kind of appetizer
2. Bean curd. I eat it for many meals. It's not smelly. Eating cold is also nice. Decorating leaf is eatable, called Oba.
3. This one is also bean curd but looks like yogurt, dry taste.
4. Steamed vegetables with soy sauce
5. At first I thought it's green bean boiled in syrup but it's rather similar to boiled rice. More chewy and tasty. It is boiled wheat. The taste is not as sweet as Thai dessert.
6. Now is meat dish. If you don't eat beef, can change to chicken. Eat raw, like this.
Nope ... They provide small stove for grilling. Anyway, raw chicken is also eatable (I have tried).
If you eat beef, you'll get beef instead.
7. Still meat dish; fish (I don't know the name).
No.8, 9 and 10 are two sorts of soup served with steamed rice.
11. Last dish for main course. Don't know what it is (I forget). Should be two types of vegetables.
12. Finally dessert. This one is highlight. In the glass is tomato similar to mousse. Superrrrrrrrr delicious! Grape is very fresh. I really like it. Wanna ask for more.
We are done with food. Let's go to onsen. There are various pools in different zones. Onsen is on the same way with dining room but on the left side.
Some time periods are reserved for private use. You have to pay extra and the time is clearly stated, as seen in picture. Private period 25 minutes at JPY1000. Start at 8.00PM to 11.30PM. Each zone switches usage between male and female at particular time. You can observe from the board, characters and colors, at entrance. From picture, pink is female and blue is male. In case you don't really know, get close to the door and listen to the sound inside. If it is the same tone, you can enter.
Atmosphere at each zone is different. If you have time, trying many zones should be fun. I didn't take photo, so I use images from website instead.
Back to bedroom, mattress is unfolded. Ready to sleep.
Morning view from our room.
Beautifully dress in Yukata and walk around (The one that looks like bed sheet).
View and ambiance in front of hotel.
I don't know the name of this river and don't want to know how cold it is either. I heard staff said 8. I assume 8°C (My listening skill is very poor).
It's time for breakfast. Let's check it out. Breakfast is served at the same room, dining room. There are variety of menus.
Here's the longest buffet line including different kinds of pickles. I admit that I don't have any clues of what they are. May I say "read from the plates". They clearly explain.
Follow by salad, fresh vegetables and dressing, yummy.
Next is rice and soup. And as usual, read from the plates. I don't know how to explain.
This table has another kind of food which I don't know what it is. You can see from the signs.
Before you think there is only Japanese breakfast. They also serve bread, tea, coffee and fruits.
Last one should be dessert.
This is the end of our trip; 3 provinces and accommodation.
Next review is going to be all about food.