A room with a view

sunrise over toba bay
Originally uploaded by moorethanthis.

This was the view from our hotel room this morning. Pretty nice, n’est-ce pas? We took the train down to Toba, a seaside town on the Ise Penisula a few stops along from Ise Shrine, which we visited last semester. The hotel was a big Western-style construction overlooking the sea, but with Japanese rooms, complete with tatami mats, futons on the floors and sliding screens dividing rooms. You put on a yukata (light summer kimono) to walk around the hotel, and set off to the baths for a long relaxing soak. As I’ve written before, any embarrassment about the general nudity quickly wears off and you enjoy the lovely warm water. Well, lovely for the most part – one bath was so hot I could only sit in it halfway, leaving my legs boiled-lobster pink and my top half pasty white when I got out. Back in our room, we drank it up and watched Winter Olympics coverage – non-stop replays of Arakawa-san’s figure skating victory, of course, but also the curling, where I watched the British team get trounced by a bunch of camp-looking Americans in tight T-shirts. In the presence of six American students. Not the proudest I’ve ever been of my country.

We woke up early to catch the sunrise (see photo above) and get some more bathing in, before we set off for breakfast at the hotel’s buffet, which is known in Japanese as a baikingu (‘viking’). I thought this odd name was because both the smorgasbord and Vikings originated in Scandinavia, but I recently found a blog post with a (bizarrely) different explanation…

The train carried us back through the mountains at a pretty leisurely pace (see left). By the time we were back in the urban jungle of Osaka, our time at the seaside seemed just a distant memory. One of the better ways to spend an early weekend.


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Filed under friends, photography, travel

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