We increasingly realise we live in a great location, despite how rural it is. It is beautiful, cheap, located near an onsen town, and we recently found Gorgonzola cheese and ciabatta fresh baked bread in our local supermarket. I am getting fat this Christmas! (For info, an onsen is a hot spring. You scrub yourself down whilst sitting on a plastic stool in all your naked glory, before dipping into some hot baths and enjoying steam rooms with strangers. It is single sex and extremely liberating to stroll around in the nod whilst having a relaxing time!)
Last weekend we decided to make the most out of the convenient once-an-hour trains up the coast (sprinkle some sarcasm here…) and so we visited Kawatana onsen. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we assumed onsen would be available. One of the schools I trek to once a week is also near here, so I have been longing to get of the train and rather than walk head down to school, do some exploring.
The train ride up shows how rural we live pretty quickly! In a matter of minutes we are travelling through valleys, surrounded by mountains and the coastline. I often play the game of ‘which house do I want when I am older’. I am certain I have played this game since childhood and I am yet to invest or find the perfect home. This journey throws a few contenders into the mix though! As we traveled towards Kawatana onsen, even Dan looked up from his phone to briefly admire the views…
On arrival at Kawatana onsen, Dan had ‘Cafe Jam Jam’ in mind. Now, I’ve not disclosed this before, but Dan has had some fabulous ‘google maps then plan’ fails recently. Not just the one…So, I was suitably skeptical about finding the likes of ‘Cafe Jam Jam’ in this far-away rural place. But, finally, I will trust him with planning once more! We found a wonderful little gem: ate a delicious curry set menu with hot drinks and pudding for around seven pounds; chatted to the owner who was very keen to practice his English and show me pictures of his best friend (the Principal at one of my schools…); and found a decoration with the most perfectly wonderful google translate fail ever. It takes the current award of ‘nice try but should have got a native speaker to check it’.
After a delightful lunch we ventured into the onsen zone. Following the flock of…birds, we picked what seemed to be the largest onsen. A man almost fell over as we read the kanji and matched it to our phones to check it was indeed an onsen. He was keen to help, but just could not get his jaw off the floor in time. We really were in the inaka (rural)! The onsen was nice, but we have set our sights on a little grander for our next visit (there is a posh hotel just around the corner…)! It was a little local and heaving with old nakedness. Still, they had a brilliant massage chair, so while I was waiting for Dan I got to have an extremely alarming fully body vibrate in public. Much to everyone’s delight but mine. It lasted 15 minutes…
On our way back to the train station we stopped to momentarily take in the scenery. This brief pause was all one kind lady needed as she bustled over to give us some of the juiciest and most delicious oranges I have ever eaten. She had just picked them off her tree and watched with delight as we exclaimed how ‘oishi’ they were! They were also the size of my head! Organic tastiness. We traveled the twenty minutes home with a smile on our face and a full belly, whilst feeling lucky to live in a place most have never heard of, but hopefully will at some-point decide to visit.