Culture / Food / Japan

Day 9 (part 5): Overnight Stay at a Ryokan!

After an exhausting day of travelling and sightseeing in between Kanazawa and Noto peninsula, we finally come to a stop at a Ryokan (Japanese-style hotel/spa) for the night. As the bus pulled up to the hotel, we couldn’t help but to express our disappointment in regards to the facility. You have to understand, we all had a romanticized idea of what a ryokan should look like:

 

We were expecting something along these lines … but we ended up with a modern building like the one pictured on the right. Our Spirited Away vision was shattered but we were still happy to have the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese inn.

After the check-in we finally got to see our rooms (yay!) and rest up a bit before dinner. The rooms were very nice and 100% traditional (which is what we were looking for). Our groups had been split into separate rooms of (all-boy and all-girl rooms): 4 Canadians, 4 Americans and then the last room was 2 of each. I was placed in the latter room, with the one girl from my group who was causing us a lot of grief and who sort of disliked us (if you notice from my previous posts, she is very rarely pictured in our group shots and this, by her own choice). The grand total of rooms that we occupied was 6, plus the teachers’ suite.

I was basically placed in a room with 3 strangers, which honestly felt very uncomfortable. At first we introduced ourselves and our other non-present team members, but I disliked when all 3 of them found derogatory nicknames to qualify my friends (due to their inability to pronounce their French names). Now from where I come from, you don’t insult my friends to my face and expect me to take it lying down. I soon left to rejoin my group and left them to their pettiness.

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Pretty removable sitting area (to make way for futons at night time)

Everyone checked out their rooms a bit, left our luggage and then left to conglomerate in the boys’ room. When we got there, we watched a Sumo match on t.v. all together and witnessed Harumafuji-san’s wonderful win against his opponent. Oh, the emotions flew high! We all enjoy Sumo and it was a real treat to see a game in real time while in Japan.

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Everyone gathered in the boys’ room!

After the game, we split into smaller groups where some went outside to explore the grounds and some remained inside and chilled out in the lounge downstairs. Sophie and I figured we would take our showers before the crowd shuffled in and took over the onsen. We went straight for the shower stalls (only two of them, amongst all the traditional onsen ‘sitting showers’), dressed in our yukatas and then left for dinner.

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Dressed in yukata for our ryokan dinner

We got to the dining hall and much to our surprised, we were faced once again with the dreaded washoku (Japanese traditional meal of raw seafood & fish).

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yummmm….

After our lovely dinner (yes, this is sarcasm), we left for the onsen to relax before the karaoke party. It was my first time experiencing an onsen, and it was a lot of fun. I was apprehensive at first, feeling a bit awkward about it, but the girls and I set down some ground rules like looking away when someone entered the bath, and wearing a towel when sitting/standing outside of the bath. With that set in place, we enjoyed our spa experience very much. We spent all of our time in the outdoor onsen; the air was cool and the water was piping hot, which made a nice contrast, and we had a view of the stars and the bamboo trees lining the bathing area around us.

After a good 2 hours of soaking (and turning into prunes), we left for the karaoke room inside the hotel for a little bit of fun before going to bed. There were two rooms, one where my group was in (going all crazy singing a mix of Japanese and English songs) and the other room was for our American friends (going all crazy on Katy Perry). We frequently gravitated between both rooms, obtaining an odd composition of singers!

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Nothing beats karaoke in the middle of the night, in Japan

At some point, when were all so tired that we couldn’t stand up anymore, it was time to wrap things up and call it a night. We left for our rooms and found them transformed: our futons/beds had been turned down for us.

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Fluffy futons!

Everyone happily took to their futons, except for the boys and I, who oddly didn’t feel as tired as the others. I left my room to go to theirs to talk for a while and let my room mates sleep. We talked for a really long time and had tea, and by the time I decided to get going, it was getting close to 3 A.M.! The fun part came when I tried to get back into my room: my room mates had locked me out!! Not having a place to sleep, I considered taking up residence in the armchair next to the elevator until the next morning, but I came across one of our drunk American neighbours who came stumbling out of his room. As he was trying to convince me to spend the night in their room (sure, a room with 4 drunk guys in it … yeah, totally safe), one of my guys came out from the bathroom and ‘saved’ me ^_^ So I ended up going back to the guys’ room, where they pulled out an extra futon for me (at least I felt safe with my friends >.<).

What an adventurous night! Inedible food, spa, karaoke, chatting until 3 in the morn’, getting locked out of my room, and bunking up with the guys for the night (I think if our handlers/teachers had known, they would have had a fit). All this, and having to wake up at 6 a.m. to get ready for a new day of sightseeing and shopping before we returned to Kanazawa.

I felt like I was back in high school again!

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