Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Well, Kusatsu was an adventure. Its an onsen town. (Onsen means hot springs.) We went at the end of last month with Keira for her birthday weekend. It was good times.

So, we started our adventure by taking the local train service to Koriyama. Its about 30-45 minutes away from Shin-Shirakawa. We took the staff bus to the station and then hopped right on this train. We ate a quick snack while we waited for the train. I had an Anpanman chocolate cream bun. It was amazing.
We got to the station soon enough and needed to kill some time. We were taking the night bus from Koriyama to Shinjuku and the bus didn't leave until... 12:55am. Yep. So, to kill some time, we ended up doing karaoke at the Big Echo location across from the Koriyama station. It was awesome. I really enjoyed karaoke with David and Keira. We sang lots of oldies and some other good stuff. Good times. I can't wait to do it again. And at the end of a song, it would tell you how many calories you burned from singing! Pretty high tech, eh? So, after spending two hours singing ourselves hoarse and drinking and much melon soda as possible, we hopped back across the street to the station.

We met a lady who was taking a different night bus to Narita. She was flying out to Delaware with her husband. She was really sweet. We wasted some time listening to music and just chatting about random stuff and walking around the station complex. It was a pretty station. I wish there was better lighting so I could take photos. Oh well. Next time, Gadget. Next time! *shakes fist* And just before the bus got there, keira and I paid a visit to the ladies bathroom.

Now, there is something very important I will tell you about Japanese toilets. Well, a few things. First of all, they stink. Like, they reek. I guess they don't believe in putting air fresheners in the toilets, but man. Yuck. Secondly, squat toilets are the norm. Most places will have a western toilets, but not many. I hate them, but I'm getting quite adept at using them. Go team. And third, in outdoor public restrooms there is no toilet paper.

True story.

I discovered this AFTER going. It was horrible. No kleenex, no toilet paper, Keira has nothing. I had to use my face blotting papers. Yeah. Ewww. I'll never use those restrooms again. And I'll always keep kleenex in my purse from now on.

So, anyway, after that unpleasant ordeal, we found our bus and hopped on. Well, this one was FANCY! It came with a fleece blanket for everyone, an adjustable pillow that was attached to the seat and a shade thing. Almost like what baby carriages have, so that you could block the lights. We were still in the back, but hey. Whatcha gonna do.

The ride was pretty uneventful. I tried to sleep. I brought my iPod with me and loaded it with softer music and classical stuff. And of course, I fell asleep and then woke up 45 minute later when a song I liked came on. I was singing the lyrics in my dream. I'm awesome like that. But, we got to Shinjuku in good time. We got there way early. Our bus to Kusatsu didn't leave til 8am. And we got in at about 5:30. Yeah~ Awesome. So, we walked about, looking for our bus stop, And once we found it we went and got breakfast. My breakfast was so awesome that I couldn't take a picture. It was so amazing, that the camera would've broken from sheer awesomeness. Yes. My breakfast? Spaghetti bolongese from 7-11. Ah yeah~~~ It was AMAZING. And I had a really good bottle of milky coffee with it. Melty au Lait is the name. It's my new favourite bottled/canned coffee beverage. Yum. <3

I slept on the bus ride to Kusatsu, with random moments of wakefullness. We passed a place called Al Pachinko's. And we all laughed. (Pachinko is a gambling game thing. Super popular.) And I loved passing all the towns. It seems like Japan has little creeks and rivers everywhere. And they're all so pretty. I bought a bottle of Clear Peach at one of the rest stops. 
 It tasted like Fuzzy Peaches, but without the added sugar. And it had kinda a salty taste to it. I thin it uses sea water. Lol. But, we eventually got to Kusatsu. After a quick potty break and staring at a map we headed out. We wanted to drop by our ryokan to leave our luggage first then explore. So, we asked a few people along the way to make sure we were heading the right way. ...And got lost. Ahahaha. Good work team. We eventually found the right street and walked towards the sign. Our ryokan was set away from the town center, so it was quieter and we liked that. That and the owner spoke moderate English, so that's a plus. We walked up the building with lamps outside bearing the ryokan's name and rang the bell. No answer. No one was around, so we just took our stuff with us.

Our first stop in the town center was the foot bath. Most amazing invention EVER. Basically, its just a big gazebo over a small knee deep pool. It has stone slabs rimming the edge and you sit and plunk your feet into the water. Everyone does it. Its a great place to meet people. And it gets water directly from the source, so its piping hot. Our feet were red when they got out! But, it was so warm and lovely that we didn't wanna leave.
 After the foot bath, we took some photos of the waterfall in the town center. It's called Yubatake and its gorgeous! It was a really popular photosite and for good reason.
  Sooo pretty! <3 We decided after the photos to get lunch. And we stumbled into the best little cafe ever! Cafe Quatre Freres. It had a few items on the menu, but they were all delicious. How do we know that? Well, we ate there everyday. XD It was that good! I got a cream cheese and tomato pizza the first day. And it was heavenly. Reeeal pizza! Omg. Yummmmmmmm~
After (an AMAZING) lunch, we headed to the shrine at the top of the central area. Lots of stairs. I've decided that after this trip in general, I don't ever wanna climb up stairs again. Ever. I'm hoping to convince Kyoko to install escalators at the staff house here. Bah.
 The temple complex was really pretty! Lots of old buildings and great architecture. I love Japanese styled buildings. They have such a great shape to them. we all purified ourselves again in the running water and looked about.
 At this point, it was about 3ish, so we walked back to our ryokan to check in.

...Or so we thought! Dun dun DUUUUNNN!

We rang the bell and still no one was coming. So, we sat on the stoop and waited. (The door was locked.) We waited. And waited. For an hour. We all napped, I read some of Peter Pan on my Kobo and just chilled. Finally, something happened. A little old lady nearly ran us over. She pulled up so closely to the stoop that we had to scramble out of the way. She gave us a weird look and walked off. 2 minutes later a gentleman comes up and asks if we're staying at the ryokan. Turns out we were at the wrong place. It was around the corner. Go figure. We checked in and promptly passed out in our room upstairs.
After a short nap, we cleaned up and went down to dinner. I forgot my camera, sorry! But, it was a beautiful display of traditional Japanese foods. I didn't like some of it, but it was interesting to try! After dinner, we headed to the bath. It was my first time doing the bath thing, so Keira and I used one of the private rooms. Girls only. Sorry David! It was far less awkward than I thought it'd be. Once you take your glasses off and can't see, you suddenly don't feel as self conscious. So, we soaked for about 15 minutes. It was glorious. Perpetually hot bath water is an AMAZING thing. Just saying. We got changed and then took off to see the city center at night.

1 comment:

  1. awesome post hunny....sounds like a great place to visit!