We took the train to Atami, a seaside city a couple hours south of Tokyo, known for natural mineral hot springs. I wanted Steve to experience a traditional Japanese inn, meaning sleep on the floor on tatami mats and have dinner and breakfast served in the room. We arrived in town and enjoyed browsing the little streets by the train station. It was much less crowded and different from the bustling environment we left in Tokyo.
We found a little cafe serving a typical variety of dishes. Steve ordered katsudon and I ordered ramen. Both were decent, satisfying and filling.
On to Hotel Suiyotei to check in. The hotel was interesting to say the least. Only one English speaking person and the hotel workers would panic if she wasn’t around to answer our questions. We were escorted to our room after a tour of the hotel and all the hot spring areas.
I couldn’t wait to try bathing in the hot springs but Steve was not at all inclined to bath with strangers (same sex), outdoors, and naked. First we had to get oriented to the area. The room was a typical tatami room with the low table, cushions to sit on, and a closet containing the futons to be brought out after dinner. Dinner was brought to the room by a kimono clad woman, who politely bowed, entered our room with tray after tray of food. It filled the entire table!
Steve doesn’t look too excited, does he? The food consisted of a big boat of sashimi, a nabe of beef, shrimp, mushrooms, soba, chawan mushi, shellfish, tofu, pickles, miso soup, rice, fruit and more. Some things I couldn’t identify at all. Overall it was just fair. The sashimi was not so fresh tasting and many of the items didn’t appeal to us.
After dinner I dressed in my yukata (robe) and set out to try the hot springs. I went to the oceanside open air pools. I was a little anxious about the whole experience but I managed to just go for it–and it was a wonderful experience. I got to sit in the mineral hot springs overlooking the ocean in the cool night air, rocks, bubbling springs, beautiful plants, and just relax. There were a couple of other women there but they stayed in another section.
My cousin, Minako, had a good laugh when she saw Steve’s wearing the yukata–the short sleeves and short length… Breakfast was much better than dinner. We were served the local fish, Aji, grilled. It was salty and flaky. We had miso soup, rice, tamagoyaki (omelet), local fish cake, pickled vegetables, the local special wasabi pickles, green salad?, and nori. I couldn’t believe that Steve was sitting there in his yukata eating rice, seaweed, fish, and miso soup for breakfast and using chopsticks. Wish my mother could be around to see this.