Monday, January 9, 2012

Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere.

Winter has arrived, but the snow has come and gone. Most of it has melted; hopefully more will arrive within the next week or so. People make the mistake of assuming I don't like snow because I don't like winter. While I would prefer to be in a cute sundress over wearing 4-5 layers of clothing, I feel that snow adds an element of magic to the season I like the least. We had the best White Christmas anyone could ask for. I've been yearning for one for years, and finally got my wish!

Matt has been gearing up for snowboarding season. We have many different mountain resorts to choose from within a 30-60 minute drive from our home. I'm anxious to try it out as well. In the meantime though, I've been loving the variety of onsen in our area!

Onsen bathing is the best way to warm up on a chilly day, and provides many health benefits. It's really quite simple -- most places charge 500-800円 for you to use their public bath. It's divided by gender, so I like to bring a friend with me when I go since Matt and I can't enjoy the onsen together. You put your things in a locker, undress, wash yourself before entering the bath, and enjoy the relaxing hot mineral water. Every onsen is different. I've only been to three so far, and they all have different features. One has breathtaking views of the ocean and mountains, another is in a beautiful rock garden, and another is designed after a Roman bathhouse. Some even have saunas and steam rooms.

Nah, I didn't take this photo, but it's at my town's local onsen!

This weekend, we have been recovering at home after traveling so much over winter break, as classes for both of us start tomorrow. Matt and I hit up two different onsen, and also tried some local foods. On Friday night, our friends took us to the town of Izushi for Izushi style soba. They make the noodles there by hand (you can actually watch the process!) and bring them out with different condiments, with dashi for dipping. It was definitely something different! We'd like to return to Izushi at some time, since it's supposed to be like a "mini Kyoto."

After the onsen yesterday evening, we wanted something hot and soupy. Matt has been on the hunt for some local spicy ramen, and we finally located a shop. Don't be fooled by the photos, the bowls were HUGE.

Matt had Level 4 Spicy Ramen (5 is the highest you can go).

こってりラーメン (Kotteri Ramen) - mine had pork and lots of onions.

So long, Fuyu Yasumi. You were full of fun travels, great food, and lots of sleep. I'm ready to start the third term of the Japanese school year, and look forward to what the rest of what winter brings.

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