Shizuoka - the onsen and tatami experience

On Thursday morning, uncle Shoshi came to meet us at the hotel. He told us to bring our suitcases for some re-packing....
First of all because for the evening he had booked us into a little mountain hotel with an onsen (hot springs) and more importantly to pack all the gifts that aunt Takako had bought!

We walked a short distance to their appartment. I also photographed a manhole cover, like in every city:
(I never photographed one in Kyoto because they are surprisingly boring.)

They live on the 13th floor of this building. It may not look like much from the outside but they have a stunning view from up there. Of course, better weather would have helped....
To the other side there are rail tracks and Shinkansen trains pass through quite frequently.

Then we saw the mountain of gifts - I think it was all food stuff - and this was not everything! Takako kept bringing more packages and boxes. They are for everybody in the family back in Switzerland (and Luxemburg).

Send in the packing master! Here's where playing a lot of Tetris as a child comes in handy...

Fortunately I had a travel bag with me in which we packed our stuff that Oli and me would need the next two days.
Then every little bit of free room in his, mine and Verena's suitcase was filled up. We managed to pack it all! (Left is my stuff, right are the gifts...)
Shoshi then had the three suitcases sent to our hotel in Yokohama.

We took our minimal luggage down to the car and started the next part of our trip.

On the way we passed dozens of strawberry farms. They are empty in October, but during the season which lasts 3 to 4 months you can go there and eat strawberries directly from the bushes.

In total contrast to last nights high cuisine we went to a simple ramen restaurant.
The layout was the same though - people here apparently really like to see their cooks at work!
And the noodle soup was of course delicious - because in Japan, cheap food is good as well.
Shoshi got a bit lost while driving up the hills - in all fairness, there a lot of little streets and the hotel really was difficult to find. But thanks to GPS we finally got there.
It was a ryokan, a traditional Japanese style place with big rooms and a view to an artificial waterfall (we knew because they turned it off at night!).
We had two rooms of different styles and left the western room to Verena.
After all it was my first time of sleeping in a Japanese room with tatami mats!
This is the daytime layout which can easily be rearranged.
Wooden bathtub
Interestingly designed furniture
We needed a bit of fresh air and were recommended  a place called Clematis Hill. Unfortunately by the time we got there it was about 4:30 and they were closing. But we got a little stroll and a view down on Mishima anyway.
More street art!
You want me to walk over THIS? Are you out of your mind?
Fortunately I didn't have to because it started to rain and we turned around.

When we returned from our stroll, Takako said: "Let's go down to the onsen!"
And we did - separated by gender of course, because everybody gets butt naked to bathe in the hot water that comes directly out of the spring.
No photos of that ;-)

This is one of the reasons why you don't have to bring many toiletries to Japan: it's all there, even tooth and hair brushes!
And there were also yukata for the guests  which we put on for dinner.
There was a room reserved on the name of Yoshitomi as you can all read I'm sure...
Yukata couple
We had another elaborate meal like the night before, of which I will only go into some details.
The starters were autumn themed and came in this pretty box.
This was the one course that challenged all of us the most. Pregnant river fish, to be eaten in one piece... The belly was full of tiny white eggs.
I tried my best but only ate little of it.
This on the other hand is an example of the wonderful fruit you get here. Not only are the grapes gigantic, they also taste wonderful!
Reflection of our private dining room. It's quite customary in Japan to have a separate room when you go out to eat in a group.
Meanwhile our hotel room had been transformed with two futons.
Short posing for fun in the bath
The Japanese like to have a mirror in their shower....