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Nikko Part 1: My Apotheosis

The hotel I’m staying in for two nights is just lovely. Walking down the hallway to my room I felt like I was entering a time warp. The more steps I had taken the further back in time I went. Another thing I noticed is that all of the flowers that had adorned the hallway were all real! Nobody ever takes notice of this. I stopped and smelt every flower I walked by, all each fragrant and full of beauty as if I was being embraced and welcomed by this floral scented hotel. Wide and spacious hallways, dimly lit and deeply alluring. Even from my hotel room I could hear a raging river from just below my balcony as water gushed forth from some mystic crevice somewhere deep, like it sprang forth from mother nature’s womb, soothing my soul.

Sitting down in my kotatsu, a low table with a heat source, my legs are fully stretched underneath. My kotatsu is situated up close and facing the window where I can see everything.

From my window the view is very modest, yet pleasant to the senses: the sound of rushing water, a green bridge off to my right. A string of five star hotels lining a gorge adjacent to our hotel.

From the Soaring misty cliffs from above there’s this one cherry blossom tree neatly tucked away in a mountainous sea of green trees and bushes, just barely visible through the mist.

I could almost visualize this scene representing a very rare jewel called a 大和撫子(yamato-nadeshiko), which roughly translates to: “ a Japanese woman with all the traditional graces; an ideal Japanese woman. The green trees could be taken to mean modern society, and the bushes could represent something hidden from plain sight.

The mineral water I’m drinking is called oze no oishi mizu with a pH of 7.3 which makes it soft water, or water with good alkalinity. I am having a very natural moment right now. I can see more misty clouds roll in as the evening sky darkens. I can also see someone walking across that little green bridge carrying a white umbrella hurriedly as little rain drops begin to precipitate into big ones. I think she made it across the bridge safely. I love how rain feels across my face when I’m outside. I wonder if she felt the same as she was scurrying across the bridge while looking at my pupils dilate...and my mouth salivate. Maybe she felt the same….

I just put on a nice clean undershirt so that I could keep warm. The temperature just dropped about 2 degrees. I can feel the hunger pang start to increase in frequency. I’m anticipating a great meal tonight. Japanese style. Regional delights from around Kinugawa should be nice. I’d like to order a beer first because it acts as a nice aperitif, which clears the throat hole then down a nice nihonshu as a nice finisher.


Excellent. I knew this hotel was a real winner. So many elderly people checked-in earlier this afternoon. As a matter of fact, before I choose any onsen hotel I always check what’s called くちコミ which translates to word-of-mouth communication(hiragana and katakana must be used). According people over 50 this onsen hotel is rated 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, five being the best of the best! I never grade a hotel according to what people under 30 say, because frankly many of them don’t know anything.

The meal tonight was a traditional set menu. I especially enjoyed the yuba 湯葉 ,which is a delicacy made from the skin forming on the top of gently-boiled soybean milk! This delicacy is also a typical dish enjoyed by Buddhist monks, since they don’t eat meat and therefore are able to get protein from this yuba.

Another dish that I also love, and that was good tonight is called ちゃわんむし 茶碗蒸し(chyawanmushi), which is a cup-steamed egg custard hotchpotch. Only this time there were these huge junks of chicken meat instead of the usual shrimp. The sake I had tonight was also super excellent. I will blog about it separately.

After dinner we took a nice walk around the hotel. There was even a museum on the 3rd floor. When we returned to our room the futons were spread for us – we always love this. Quickly I undid my yukata and crawled under my futon blanket. It was so comfortable especially after a delicious hot meal. I napped for about an hour, woke up and headed down to the indoor bath. The water temperature was perfect. I think it was around 41 degrees centigrade. Then I went to the outdoor bath.

When I was soaking in the indoor bath I was there with about 3 individuals. All of us were sort of drifting along in our own world. No one said a word. From where I was sitting in the water there was this huge window pane and from it I could see another hotel from across the way. Far off I could see this black figured silhouette of a man doing push ups. I saw another person changing out of his/her yukata – it’s hard to tell nowadays who’s who. From the window pane I also saw the reflection of the person behind me scrubbing down. He was concealed in a smooth and feminine body, maybe he was all man inside, but from the outside you couldn’t tell the difference. He would gracefully get in and out of the water then walk back over to rinse his body down. Skin smooth and taut and without any blemishes, no hair.

The outdoor bath was perfectly situated to where you could see all of nature. Suddenly a deluge of heavy rain broke forth. Huge cold rain drops pelted the hot onsen water creating steam. I could barely keep my eyes open because of it. My hand towel was a good refuge though. I was able to settle in and enjoy this display of mother nature calling to nature, clouds pissing dew drops.

After getting dried off, I headed back to my room, replenished myself with ice cold water and a liter of Aquarius – a sports drink. The sake of choice tonight is called Otoko no Yujyou( 男の友情), which means: Boys Friendship. A local jizake from this area. This sake is not recommended, but I was able to drink it nevertheless. I did begin to appreciate its rough character as something that was a bit too premature, but drinkable. I eventually liked it.

It’s midnight and my eyes are getting heavy.


  1. Tony,
    Any chance you will reveal the name of the secret hotel in Nikko? I have long thought the most important part of a trip to Nikko is finding the right place to stay.

    I stayed for two nights.
    I stayed for a night.

    Shirakawa yunokura was an old hotel, but the water and roten are excellent! Every room has a view.
    Staff all excellent.

    The Asaya was for me a five and a half star hotel. I've stayed in a little over 74 onsen hotels and this one was to me too luxurious. It felt more like a resort than a hotel. Every room had its own desktop PC, the food was unbelievable; all you can eat, ready made order steaks, omelets, tempura! The works.

    Both hotels are located in Kinugawa.


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