After a long train ride through the countryside, seeing all the rooftops of the farmhouses, I arrived at the station in darkness. As I walked out I the station and saw all the shops closed I got a little nervous thinking what if that old woman at the ryokan not get that I was coming tonight to stay.
As I Found my way from a print out map, I got to the street where naruya ryokan was located. Once I crossed a bridge that was lit and turned the corner, the entire village was alive with cherry blossoms, wood lankinf from the wooden clogs everyone was wearing as they ventured out To the onsens.
Now I was excited. I then found naruya and went in. An old lady was there waiting or me an asked if I’d found the place ok. She then gave me slippers, took my shoes and showed me I my room. The room was traditional tatami mat with a flat screen tv and paper doors. I was happily surprised. She also made me tea as she explained how everythin worked. She gave me a traditional bath yukata and kimono to wear out to the baths and a little bag to carry a towel and wash cloth in a there are no baths onsite.
After drinking my tea, I donned the yukata and robe and got my clogs and headed out in the crisp wet night air. The clanking of all the shoes out on the streets brought a smile to my face I what a cook experience it was. All along the river the cherry clossoms are lit, people are laughing, playing “afrerbath games” like at festivals like shooting at targets, water fishing for toys and such. I continued walking along the river and starts seeing lots of smoke coming from places. There were groups I people huddled around the foot baths where the wage vubvkes up in a shallow area just deep enough to put your legs in.
After visiting the shrine in town, I headed for a bath that was recommended by the woman at the ryokan. There was a sign out front though that read it was quite conjested so I continued on to another one down the street.
Once I entered three women in the foyer greeted me with bows and a hearty welcome. They took my clogs and I went in.
The first room is a locker room where you leave your robes and head for the bathing room. Here you sit and bathe. After bathing, you can go to the hot spring indoors to sit or go outside. I headed outside and sat in the rock filled bath with the sounds of trickling water surrounding the cool fresh air.
It was like sitting in a hot tub outdoors. Was very relaxing and nice. After I got pretty warmed up, I left and bathed again, then donned my robes and walked out along the river. The clanking was like crickets at night, loud but rhythmic and actually soothing. After my walk I went back to my room and relaxed, watched tv and talked with shoko about my plans for the next couple days. I’m glad I decided to stay two nights here as there’s a festival tomorrow!