29 September 2008

Tokyo 11-16 April 08 - Ooike Hotel, Fujikawaguchiko

Specially arranged a night's stay at Lake Kawaguchi, Fuji Five Lakes area, for my mum, aunt and brother to experience a Japanese Ryokan stay with onsen.

During my very first trip to Tokyo with hubby in 2003 (my honeymoon!), we also visited Kawaguchiko, in order to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji, the pride of Japanese people. Read from a magazine before that the Japanese people consider soaking onsen while admiring the breathtaking scenery of Fuji-san a very sacred experience. And indeed, I was struck in awe when I first saw the majestic Fuji-san.

There is a direct bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Station, operated by Keio Highway Bus, a one-way journey takes about 2hrs and cost 1700yen.

I was highly anticipating to see Mount Fuji again. Alas, the weather was not in our favour and the entire area was shrouded with mist and Mount Fuji wasn't at all visible :( Unlucky.

Our ryokan at Kawaguchiko - Hotel Ooike 大池ホテル, located some distance away from the lake area.Lobby area. Had made my reservation through the ryokan's website which is in Japanese language only. Was pleasantly surprised that the reception staff spoke a little English. Usually, upon checking in, the ryokan would enquire about our prefered dinner and breakfast timings and make arrangement according.
Lounge area.
This was our 10-mat tatami guest room. Quite small, but enough for 4 of us. All amenities like toiletries, slippers, yukata were prepared.
Spared no time to change into yukata to go for a soak in the natural hotspring before dinner. I guess for mum, aunt and brother, it was certainly an experience unlike no other, especially the bare-it-all concept of Japanese onsen. There are 2 public baths, separated into male and female. For couples or family who wish to bath together, there's a private onsen for rent.
Changing area.
Indoor public bath.

Dinner time! Initially was planning for a Kaiseki dinner, but realised that my mum and aunt don't take raw fish. It would be a waste not eating the sashimi, hence decided to go for another dinner plan - 90min All-You-Can-Eat Shabu Shabu しゃぶしゃぶ食べ放題プラン.
Basically, we could eat as much beef, pork and vegetable (different varieties with mushroom and tofu) in 90 mins as we wanted. All the ingredients were really fresh. Mum and aunt don't take beef so ended up, only my brother and I ate the beef so we ordered more pork then beef. In fact, mum loved the vegetable and mushroom more than the meat.
There was also chawanmushi, pickles and a pinkish cube of what tasted like tofu.
Miso soup with mushroom and beancurd.
Dessert - almond tofu jelly with blueberry sauce. I love it! After a hearty dinner, time for shopping! It seemed customary for guests to bring away with them some omiyage (souvenirs). Ryokans would usually have a small shop carrying specialty merchandise of the locale like soaps made of volcanic materials supposedly rich in minerals, food like jams, onsen buns, cookies shaped in Fuji-san etc.

By the time we went back to our room, warm futon beddings were already prepared. Before bedtime, I went for a quick soak at the onsen again.Breakfast was buffet style (what the Japs called Viking style). My favourite breakfast item - fluffy Jap rice wrapped with seaweed.

Still sometime before check out, so quickly went for a soak at the outdoor onsen which I didn't go the night before. It was slightly drizzy and still misty, unlikely to see Mount Fuji again. Temperature was quite low due to the rain, kinda of cold dashing to the outdoor onsen area in nothing but a small piece of towel.
Potable natural spring water from Mount Fuji. Refreshing!

Changing area. What I like about ryokans, they always have a few ranges of bath and beauty products for guests to use and trial.

After a round of soak and pampering, we checked out and the hotel staff sent us to Kawaguchiko Station where we waited for the Keio Highway bus back to Shinjuku. We could also take JR train back to Shinjuku but it cost more and need to change line.
While we waited for the bus, we walked around and managed to catch a partial glimpse of Mount Fuji! Although it was just partial view, it was still beautiful. At least we didn't go away disappointed.


1 comment:

  1. Wow! great pics,.. I really love tokyo this one of my favorite place in asia. Britain visa should obtain some form of entry clearance to all international visitors and students. The city combines an ancient body with a new skin, fashion comes in many styles at once.