Archive for the ‘Shimonita’ Category

A White Christmas Two Months Late

February 12, 2008

What: Mid-winter ryokan getaway trip
Where: Seiryuusou ryokan, Shimonita, Gunma Prefecture (about 3 hours from Shinjuku station)
When: Saturday February 9 to Sunday February 10, 2008
Why: Thaw out, eat, wash away the grub of Tokyo

The food:
In general, the food was unpretentious and featured local ingredients native to the region – big, thick, sweet green onions, mountain animals and konnyaku (a kind of jelly made out of potatoes). I am not a huge fan of konnyaku – but having konnyaku sashimi was delightfully unexpected. Of course, a winter dinner would not be complete without nabe. In this case, it was inoshishi (boar) nabe. In addition, under the recommendation of the owner, we ordered the seasonal special: deer sashimi. This meal was not PC, and was only for one who can handle game meats.
Breakfast was modest (we were baffled by the lack of a fish dish) but alive with local ingredients. Most notable, for me, was the natto – the beans were firm and the taste robust.

The onsen and atmosphere:
There were two onsens – indoor and outdoor. The indoor bath was made completely of wood – therefore, no ugly tiling or slippery rubber. With a huge window overlooking a frosty river scene, I knew I would have to savor the soaking for all the times that I am and will be sitting on the seventh floor of a building in Ginza.
The outdoor bath was breathtaking. After indulging in the ryokan’s homemade sake brew, I hung out in the outdoor bath. With fine flakes of snow landing on my face and the rest of my body happily engulfed in hot onsen water, I was convinced the Japanese were geniuses at the art of vacationing.

Places like Kyoto and Hakone are beautiful, but the more I live in Tokyo, I realize that Japan is full of treasures without the crowds.

Deer Sashimi
The dinner, with inoshishi nabe (top middle), konnyaku sashimi (top right)

Breakfast natto

Frosty beautifulness

Entrance to Seiryuusou