17 June 2015

Tokyo/Kawaji Onsen Dec 2014 Part III - KAI Kawaji Ryokan (Ryokan & Onsen)

Continued from

Part I - Shibuya, Tsukiji Market
Part II - KAI Kawaji Ryokan (Room)

This is "Kouryuan" (located near the entrance of the ryokan, a small water mill that's used to power millstone for grinding buckwheat into flour.

Guests are welcomed to join this free activity from 3.30pm to 5pm daily. And during winter, guests can also enjoy stone-grounded coffee in the evening from 8pm to 10pm for 1200 yen per person.

We didn't manage to join the activity, too busy chilling out in the room and onsen :p

In addition, at this Satoyama workshop (located at the lobby area), guests can get to experience rural lifestyle in the Satoyama which is the village in the mountains. There are activities like making paper, using stone mortar to grind soybeans etc. There are also specific timings to try these activities (which we didn't  :p).

This is the travel library, we chilled out here after the heavy dinner.

There's a collection of travel books, journals and photography books, mostly in Japanese.

Complimentary tea and coffee for guests' enjoyable while browsing the books.

This is the view of part of the town. Pity we didn't have the time to walk around the town.

This is the view from our room, facing a stream and mountains. Would have been so beautiful in winter when the mountains are covered in snow. For now, it felt bare, with a sense of loneliness. But I really enjoyed the quiet moments during my stay, the tranquility and serenity. I have to say, I love visiting onsens during winter, it just felt so calming and soothing.

Directions to the foot bath which is located near the stream.

A little foot bath for guests to soak their tired and cold feet.

And now for the onsen! The hot spring is separated into male and female areas, and they are not inter-changed. Some ryokans have the practice of inter-changing the male and female onsens so that guests could enjoy different onsen experiences.

Lounge area before entering the respective onsens.

Here is the female onsen. There are baskets for guests to place their yukata or clothes.

Bath towels are provided so it's not necessary to any from the room. In the guest room, there's usually a small pouch (to put key and valuables) and small towel meant for onsen. Usually I would bring these along.

Small and big lockers are available for guests to store their valuables. I would usually smuggle the camera in and then locked it up after taking photos. It took me three attempts to take proper photos of the onsen because sometimes there were other guests around and I didn't want to appear offensively or rude (it's seriously not polite since everyone is naked in here!). By now, I roughly know the timings that the Japanese use the onsens, so usually I was able to take photos when nobody was using the onsen.

Vanity area with all the necessary appliances and lotions both for face and hair. All the combs are wrapped individually, upon use, you can drop into the recycling bin provided or bring it back with you.

This is the wash area. Guests were supposed to wash up thoroughly before entering the onsen. There's a ritual/sequence to follow actually, something like quick rinse, enter onsen for quick soak, then come out to wash thoroughly with soap, finally enter onsen for relaxing soak. Usually I would just take my time to shampoo and wash myself thoroughly, then enter the different onsen baths for complete relaxation.

This is the indoor onsen made of Japanese cypress. Usually just stay indoors for a while only coz I prefer the outdoor ones.

There are two outdoor baths, this is the cypress one.

And this is the stone/rock one.

Personally I prefer the rock one which feels more rustic and bigger. I could literally swim inside. It felt good to enjoy the cold crisp air of the winter while enjoying hot spring bath, and admire the nature and scenery around me.

Since I love onsen so much, I became a little obsessive whenever I visit one. I would soak like 5-6 times, once upon check-in, once before dinner, once after dinner, once before bedtime, once before breakfast, once before check-out. LOL. Ok, maybe not so many times, but as many times as I feel like it especially if the onsen is really nice and spacious like this one.

After soaking in the onsen bath, it's nice to hang around the lounge area. Some ryokans even have massage chairs for guests.

And usually ryokans would provide some complimentary beverage like mountain water/spring water for guests to replenish fluid after the hot soak.

Here they have two beverages, lemon water.

And hatomugi cha, which is roasted whole grain adlay millet tea. The tea is said to be used by the Japanese since ancient times for curing problem skin, lightening complexion and maintaining a healthy, glowing look. I think I drank like a dozen cups! LOL :p

Next up, will be the kaiseki dinner as well as breakfast. Stay tuned!

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