December 21, 2007

Gunma hotspring trip DAY 1

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0712170007Minakami(水上) station in Gunma(群馬) Prefecture. From Ueno station in Tokyo, it is about two and a half hour to three hours by train. There are a few souvenir stores right in front of the station, but other than that, the town is very quiet.

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Very nice grilled curry gratin rice in Caffe Restaurant ASIMA near Minakami station.
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We stayed in Ousenkaku(汪泉閣) of Takaragawa hotspring(宝川温泉). The hotel sent a bus to pick us up from Minakami station.
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Reception room where we were served tea and were introduced to the facilities in the hotel. The Japanese staff spoke really good English and Mandarin(!!). That's probably why there were quite a lot of foreign visitors. We wanted to save up money, so we stayed in the cheapest room without toilet and bath inside. There is a toilet right outside our room and we took shower before going into the hotspring anyway, so it wasn't that bad. The whole stay including dinner and breakfast is less than 10,000yen per person(there were two of us). The contents of the meals are exactly the same whichever room you stay in.
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View from our room.
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You need to cross a bridge to go to the hotspring.
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Breath-taking views!
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Bears in cages!
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Entrance to the hotsprings.
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There are 3 konyoku(mixed-gender bathing) hotsprings and 1 female-only hotspring. Females are allowed to go into the mixed hotsprings with bath towels wrapped around their bodies(usually you cannot put a towel into the hotspring water), but we were still too chicken and went straight for the female-only one.
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Okay you are not supposed to take pics of the hotsprings...but we were early and there was no one there. ^^;;
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The stream is right next to the hotspring.
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Dinner time! If you pay more, you can have dinner served in your room. But we just ate in the restaurant.
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Some river fish's sashimi and its roe. Chawanmushi and tempura.
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Beef kaminabe(paper hotpot).
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Grilled fish, mushroom and root vegetables.
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Grilled chicken. Bear soup. I asked the waitress about the bear soup and she reassured me that the bear meat is from Hokkaido and NOT from the bears we saw earlier. ^^;; The food is really tasty. I especially like the beef, and also the bear soup which has many goodies like different kinds of taro, root vegetables and chewy floury things. I was so so so stuffed by the end.
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0712180097Breakfast. You can choose either Japanese or Western.

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Comments:

nanna>
Hope you have a good time in Takaragawa. Make sure you save some space for the nice "bear soup" at the end!

Joan>
Yeah we should definitely go to a hotspring trip together one day! XD

seat | January 10, 2008 05:42 PM

Wowowow look so good!! I want to go Japanese style hotspring + dinner so badly!!!

Joan | January 10, 2008 05:02 AM

Thanks for the great photos! Im going to takaragawa in a few months, now Im looking even more forward!

Maybe Ill look some of the places in Tokyo up aswell, they look very nice.

nanna | January 9, 2008 07:03 AM

Bear meat has a little bit of "game meat" taste and smell, but the miso is strong enough to cover it alright.

seat | December 29, 2007 07:39 PM

I'm back~ (didn't go to $$$$ restaurant, just can't do it ^^;;) Oh my I can't believe such snow mountain resort can be found 2 hours away from Tokyo. Haha, bear soup~ (that cute bear shape tags!) how does bear flavor taste like? The dinner has so much food, amazing!

Freda | December 28, 2007 03:36 PM

RP>
It is a bit horrid(even for a non-vegetarian) if they show you all these cute animals(each animal has a name!) and then they serve you their meat at dinner. ^^;;; The bear soup got me a bit paranoid but apparently the bear meat is from some big bears in Hokkaido.

Oh hahaha I thought the sign must be deliberate too. Actually one of the reasons why we decided not to go to the mixed hotsprings, was that we saw a guy bothering a girl...the girl told him off and he went back to the other side, but still! The girl was alone though. Would probably be better if you go in a group.

seat | December 27, 2007 05:34 PM

Hi there,

I just so happened to google search for places to eat in Japan and came across your journal. It's fantastic! In fact, I will be flying there in a few days for vacation and will be using some of your recommendations as a guide. Keep up the good work! If you would like meet another fellow foreigner foodie for lunch or dinner in Tokyo email me. I'm always down to meet new fellow foodies around the world. Thanks!

Gia | December 26, 2007 06:42 PM

Really pretty mountain views *o*~~!!!
Just got back from Vegas/Grand Canyon, the later has nice snowy mountain/canyon view too- but I would love to see traditional Japanese buildings in the snow~ Hot spring in the wild is cool too! That "ero is empty" sign made me laugh since it possibly lead to the unisex hotspring? And the cute bunny in the cage made me worry a bit (but they don't seem to eat their own animals) ^^;;

RP | December 25, 2007 08:43 AM

Freda>
Oh can't wait to see your $$$$ restaurant reports!!

湯さん>
写真が多いから、すぐアップしないと、ヤル気なくなっちゃうの~
中華で癒されてきて!!

seat | December 23, 2007 06:12 PM

Oh my the photos are amazing! I'll comment in detail later (leaving for Vegas).

Freda | December 23, 2007 01:02 PM

わわわ! すごい~ 早速アップされてるではありませんかー!
ワタシも温泉で癒されたい~

湯 | December 22, 2007 04:59 PM