Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baths in December

Running through the cold December night air wearing nothing but a towel our heads.. then gingerly stepping down into the hot hot spring water... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..... Elysian Fields. ^_^

Three of my students/friends and I took an onsen trip last weekend. ^_^ Onsens are hot springs, very popular for bathing in in Japan. They are perfect. People have been onsen-ing since before time in Japan I think ^_^ Baths are quite a Japanese tradition.. and definitely they've been bathing everyday loong before they were in the West. ^_^ Everyday, what a concept? ^_^ Onsens are my favorite part of Japan I think.

Sunday afternoon, we headed down to Toba city 鳥羽 in Mie prefecture 三重県. Toba is a seaport town, famous for pearls (and especially the women pearl-divers of back in the day), right beside the famous city of Ise 伊勢 and one of the most important shrines in Shinto, Ise Jingu 伊勢神宮. Our Onsen was called Todaya 戸田家.

We just enjoyed a couple of days of serious relaxing... eating good food... hot baths and more hot baths.... and just girl talk and getting to know each other ^_^ Dinner, then indoor baths... then we decided to explore the outdoor baths ^_^ ahhh... so wonderful, and overlooking the ocean. ^_^ then sleep. then an early morning for a perfect morning outdoor bath... then breakfast in our pajamas ^_^ (because they give you yukata, basically thin robes, to wear while you're there ^_^) and then it was time to check out. ^_^

After we left the onsen, we enjoyed wandering around Okage yokocho おかげ横丁, the town right outside of Ise Jingu ^_^ Okage yokocho means lots of yummy food again! :D And I found a couple of Christmas presents while I was there ^_^ ah, lovely weekend. ^_^

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time for the annual apple

Every year I go apple picking in Nagano prefecture 長野県 to the north of us with ladies from one of my community center English classes. It's a wonderful tradition. This year was my third time now. Three autumns sounds like a long time, doesn't it.

In Indiana, we pick apples every year, too. So actually, I have been picking apples every fall for the last 10 years or so. Ironically, I actually don't like apples very much. But, a fresh-picked fuji apple straight off a tree is like candy. In an orchard is usually the only time I ever eat apples. In Indiana, Fuji was a favorite variety. Now I get to pick them straight off Japanese trees.

Japan is so beautiful. Everyday is beautiful. We also stopped by a town famous for the fall foliage on this day trip. It's called Korankei 香嵐渓。 We arrived quite early in the morning: hard early morning sunlight from a brilliant blue sky lit up the leaves. Brilliant colors. It was the end of the season so my students said not as amazing as at peak season. There, we ate a snack: gohei mochi and mushroom tea..

A lovely fall day.

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