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Day 2: Getting naked in the snow at Yunosagi (Yuwaku) onsen

When I woke up today it was Really. Freaking. Cold. White clouds out of your mouth cold. Per request of the staff, we had turned off the room’s heater when we went to sleep. Thing is though, that was the world outside of the futon. In the futon, all was warm and good. Those things are super effective against cold and incredibly comfortable.

Looked outside and I quickly realized why it was so cold:

Pongyi in snow

Snow!

Also, for the reader’s enjoyment, a horse eating snow:

horse eating snow

Horse eating snow.

Though I should warn the readers, that horses actually have a hard time digesting cold things like snow. The complications may include death.

Dead horse in snow.

Sad horse in snow.

The fifth member of our group was getting in late, so we met him at Kanazawa Station. He actually was supposed to come into Tokyo the same day I did, but flight complications forced him to come a day late. Of course, at that time, we were already in Kanazawa, so he had to take the train on his own.

Of course, all of the roads and sidewalks were completely packed with snow. Some of the sidewalks on the way to the station had about 2-3 inches of snow. Our party was also wearing mostly sneakers, so water was seeping in and generally making life miserable. Luckily at the station, they actually let people check out rubber boots for free for an indefinite amount of time. The boots were definitely not made for walking (almost no soles to speak of), but it was definitely better than drenching our feet.

Kanazawa Station Before

Kanazawa Station Before

Kanazawa Station After

Kanazawa Station After

The information desk at the station also had one of the many Hanasaku Iroha posters that we would encounter during the day.

Iroha poster at Kanazawa Station

Ohana @ Kanazawa Station

We picked up our friend, checked out some boots, went back to Pongyi and dropped off our luggage. We decided that we would check out Kanazawa Castle before heading out to Yunosagi Yuwaku onsen. But first, cheap lunch at Sakiya.

Negitama Gyudon

Negitama Gyudon

Hmmm, Negitama Gyudon. I’ve actually tried making it in the states, and the sheer amount of green onions required to make the thing is ridiculous (like 4-5).

 

We passed by Ozaki Shrine (尾崎神社) on the way and stopped by.

Ozaki Shrine

Ozaki Shrine

I took the opportunity to visit the actual shrine and throw in a 5 yen coin.

Ozaki Shrine

Ozaki Shrine

When clapping and bowing, I couldn’t really think of anything, so I just whispered “Don’t really have anything to wish for”. After ringing the bell and starting to walk away, I noticed that there was suddenly a whole bunch of snow falling right in front of the shrine. A sign that my (non) prayer was received? Maybe it was a sign of anger (lol).

 

Also on the way, we stopped by Kuromon Gate (黒門), where apparently the princess lived.

Kuromon

Kuromon

It was around this time that for whatever reason, we starting taking macro shots of random stuff like snow on branches.

Taking macro shots

MACRO DAT

For instance, I took this pic earlier at Ozaki Shrine of sad tied-up fortunes in the snow.

macro shot of fortune in snow

MACRO’D IT

Nearby, we started walking along what looked like a river but actually ended up being the outside to Kanazawa Castle Park. In fact, the river was actually one of the moats to the castle.

Outskirts of Kanazawa Castle Park

Outskirts of Kanazawa Castle Park

Kanazawa Castle Park sign

Think with portals.

(That sign is either a warning to think with portals or to beware of Pitfalls)

Kanazawa Castle Park Map

Kanazawa Castle Park Map

Kanazawa Castle Park

Kanazawa Castle Park

As you can see in the map and the picture above, the entire park was blanketed with lots and lots of snow.

We decided to have an impromptu play-in-the-snow session right then and there. This gave me the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do. There was this huge hill in the park that had nothing but untouched snow. So I walked up the hill and started to spell out a phrase with my footsteps. In Hidamari Sketch, Miyako does this and spells out “Love and Piece” (and later does it again but gets the spelling right).

Miyako's Love and Piece

Love and Piece!

Not being able to think of anything better to write out, I proceeded to do the same.

Love and Peace

Love and Peace…ish

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was done that I realized that I had forgotten one very important detail about that scene in Hidamari Sketch. Miyako spells it out in the school yard, and then Yuno is able to see the results by looking out a second story window in the school. In my case, there was no way for me to easily see the entire thing. The closest elevated area was up in the castle, which was way too far away to see anything. Plan failed.

Walking up to Kanazawa Castle proper

Actually going to Kanazawa Castle

After we had our fun, we walked up to Kanazawa Castle proper. Apparently they’re restoring it or something since there were marked-off locations and idle construction equipment around.

Renovations at Kanazawa Castle

Renovations at Kanazawa Castle

We walked around and explored the area, not actually going inside any of the main buildings but walking around and taking pictures of the buildings.

Kanazawa Castle

Kanazawa Castle

Deciding that getting higher is better, we walked up a path that seems like it went around the entire castle area.

Going uphill Kanazawa Castle

Gaining the high ground at Kanazawa Castle

On the way, we went to an overlook and found this:

Snowman.

Snowman.

There were actually a whole bunch of these little snowmen, probably made by various visitors that day, all around the park. At this particular overlook, there were actually two snowmen just sitting on the railing.

Kanazawa Castle Overlook

Kanazawa Castle Overlook

After taking copious amount of HDR macro shots of the snowmen on the overlook, we headed into the woods surrounding the castle.

Woods near Kanazawa Castle

Woods near Kanazawa Castle

This entire time, with all the snow that had been piling up, passing under roofs or trees and the like was somewhat dangerous due to snow that randomly fell. When we entered the castle proper there was even a sign warning of falling snow:

Falling snow sign

Danger: Falling Snow!

At some point, the mysterious horse from earlier made a stunning revival:

Return of the Horse

Wh-where’d he come from!?

 

We also realized around this time that we needed to huff it back to Kanazawa Station or we’d miss the bus to Yuwaku onsen. Walking more or less across Kanazawa, we rushed back to the station and arrive 10 minutes after the bus was supposed to leave. This meant that we’d have to wait another hour. Luckily, apparently the bus was late, so we were actually able to hop onto the bus to Yuwaku onsen!

Catching the Yuwaku bus

Super Lucky Yuwaku Onsen Bus Times

Around 5pm or so, we stepped off the bus at Yunosagi Yuwaku.

Yuwaku Onsen Area Map

Yuwaku Onsen Area

Yuwaku Onsen

Yuwaku Onsen

 

The bus had dropped us off at what seemed to be in the middle of the onsen town, near these signs describing all of the things around:

Yuwaku onsen signs

Where to go at Yuwaku onsen

We hurried over to Shuhokaku (秀峰閣) , our onsen inn, and checked in.

Shuhokaku

Shuhokaku

Right at the front desk they have lots of Hanasaku Iroha swag for sale. One of the staff members, noticing the many anime buttons on his camera bag, points to the Hanasaku Iroha merchandise and asks if we came because of that. (And of course, we did).

Hanasaku Iroha swag

Hanasaku Iroha swag

The staff member showed us to our room, where we immediately got hype and took pictures uncontrollably.

Picture-taking hype

MUST TAKE PICTURES!

After politely waiting for us to calm down, she served matcha tea and some sort of yuzu-based pastry while explaining how everything worked.

Matcha and Yuzu

Matcha and Yuzu

Since we had declined the dinner service when making the reservation (because it would’ve cost an extra $200 per person), we went out to the single restaurant in the area: Takacho.

Takacho

Takacho

Before we actually went in the eat though, we wandered around the area, looking at things like the many Hanasaku Iroha posters around and the White Heron footbath randomly near the street:

White Heron Footbath

White Heron Footbath

We went back to Takacho and actually sat down to eat. I had a Tonkotsu set meal that included an onsen egg, soup, and pickled vegetables.

Dinner.

Dinner.

It was really delicious, which is a little surprising considering what I was paying for it (1000JPY), the location (middle of nowhere essentially), and the fact that this was the only restaurant (still) open in the area. When we got back to the inn, we found that our room had magically transformed into futon-equipped sleeping mode:

Room transformed into sleeping mode

Transformmmm!

At this point, we more or less had nothing better to do than enjoy the onsen on the 2nd floor. Near the baths, there is this room with lots of Hanasaku Iroha posters and a guestbook featuring fan art drawn by the guests.

Iroha fanart @ Onsen

Iroha fanart @ Onsen

Moe moe guestbook art

Moe moe guestbook art

The guestbook art is really interesting, 2 or 3 signatures kept popping up on multiple pieces of fan art, either implying that these people drew multiple pictures during their stay or that these artists came back multiple times and drew something each time.

We finally actually made it into the onsen, and it was amazing. The experience was something like this:

Men. Bathing.

Men. Bathing.

Unfortunately I don’t really have pics of my party getting naked together and enjoying the onsen. You’ll just have to use your imagination. I did come back down later though and sneak into the bath when nobody was there:

Stealthy photo of the changing room

Stealthy photo of the changing room

Stealthy photo of bath

Stealthy photo of bath

For some reason, they put a bag of mikan (tangerines) into the inside bath. Maybe it’s to flavor the steam/water? I kept thinking about taking the bag and just eating the (onsen baked) tangerines when taking my bath.

Also, maybe it’s because our trip fell on Christmas Eve, but for some reason, I think we were the only guests this day. It’s kind of amazing to more or less have the entire place to ourselves. After bathing, we enjoyed some sake and snacks that the inn offered (as souvenirs actually) while watching Hanasaku Iroha.

Omiyage Sake

Omiyage Sake

Omiyage Pastries

Omiyage Pastries

Posted in Japan Travel.

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  1. Inari says

    I know this was posted almost a year and a half ago, but I somehow managed to stumble across your blog whilst researching the Yuwaku hot springs. I am going to Japan in a few months and and want to stay in this very same hotel for the same reason- Hanasaku Iroha, so I have a couple of questions. My Japanese is so-so, does the staff speak english? How did you reserve the room? This isn’t one of those Japanese-only places you hear so much about, is it? I’ve found their website, but its only in Japanese. Sorry for brining this post back from the dead, and I hope that you will be able to help me. Thanks in advance.



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