The hotel grounds are really beautiful:
Paul and I headed up to Matsue to check into our next hotel, Chorakuen, which is a Ryokan/traditional guest house in Hot Spring country.
Since it’s traditional, not sure how many Americans they get here. Definitely no English speaking staff here.
Lauren was to meet up with us later that evening to join us — so when we checked in we fumbled cluelessly through a regimented series of highly ritualized events upon exit from the cab — bags taking away, shoe taking away, slipper giving, paper tags giving (for shoes?), page signing, question asking (who knows what we agreed to! Two of something, at some point), breakfast table showing, breakfast time deciding, room showing (slipper removing!), table sitting, green tea serving.
We were clearly in trouble almost instantly, and several times — shoes facing wrong way! Don’t carry your own shoes/bags! I think we pretty much broke Japan
The view from our room is beautiful:
After we settled in (and after somehow reobtaining our hidden shoes), we walked around the surrounding neighborhood in search of dinner.
Naturally, Paul thought this restaurant looked good.
That photo is blurry because I only got one shot at it, as every time I stood before it to retake the photo, the pressure sensitive pad beneath it caused the front door of the restaurant to noisily slide open, stopping all conversation within as the wind blasted the patrons and they stared at me. What’s really sad is how many times that event had to happen before I stopped trying. Lab mice are smarter than I am.
We went in eventually, and were seated in the only non traditional part of the restaurant. They were kind of ‘compromise chairs’. Not completely on the ground, yet not full chair height. Just short enough to make us feel silly and like we were Doing It Wrong — possibly by having full length legs.
Again, English was not a thing here, including on the menus. We ‘mystery ordered’ (food roulette!), and got a nice variety!
After dinner we walked around the town, which has a beautiful river through the middle of it, and multiple walkways next to and above it. This isn’t a very good photo- I’ll have to manage one during the day:
Now it’s snowing outside and there’s a crazy bird. Lauren tells us that, in Japan, they say the birds are crying (vs singing).
a video from our porch where you can hear crying birds.. http://youtu.be/ylQQ9Zt8DcM
Today and tomorrow we are here at Chorakuen. Museum/temple today. Tomorrow late afternoon, we part ways with Lauren 😦
We don’t have enough ‘block foods’ in the US IMO
This was an amazing painting by a child, as part of a street display
The Japanese arcade experience is no different than ours:
Gambling for candy
Sad to leave Yakage and our inn. Today we check out and take a series of trains North to the other coast and Matsue.
Stop in Kurashiki to wait for our Express train. The station has some beautiful areas (plus an Old Navy!):
I don’t understand these body parts:
Our second day trip from Yakage was to Okatama to see the gardens. It was super overcast, but gorgeous!
Lauren tells me the above is an ad for a lawyer. Yes! I now recognize the ‘scales of justice’ on his Seed Pod Hat!
Okayama bus ride
I wish I’d photographed our humor-iliating lunch attempt at a gift shop prior to starting, but I did not. Suffice to say it resulted in Paul receiving an enormous amount of food we couldn’t identify, and me receiving one comical tiny ball of mochi. Again, we got to see the look of Polite Japanese Customer Service Person Trying Not To Laugh.
Just outside the park wAs this beautiful bridge
This is an Artificial Hill:
We took a cab back to the station because we were running late for our train connection, and we needed to meet Lauren for our dinner reservation.
Our first day trip from Yakage was to nearby Kurashiki. While Lauren was at work, we headed out.
Lauren told us if we leave at the right time, we will catch the ‘children’s art’ train
Kurashiki is a pretty big city, with a beautiful historical section. We walked from the train station– down the long long shopping street – to the start of the historical section. Since we spent most of our time looking at shops on the shopping street, we didn’t get very far into the old part before we had to turn back to catch the train to meet up with Lauren after work.
Paul made me eat pizza for lunch, at a place Lauren and he ate before. Pizza! It was, weirdly, one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. .
Lauren’s adorable little town will be a home base for three days. We love her town, and we love our inn — although we keep Doing Japan Wrong.
When we’re not annoying locals with improper slipper protocol — we’re causing them great amusement with our pathetic japanese/hand signal combos and general bumbling Americanesque– although neither of us have stooped to the depths of Paul on his prior trip where he shampooed his hair with toothpaste at the local bath, much to the glee/horror of the gentleman who informed him.
Here are some photos from around Yakage.
This sign says “to Lauren’s House” (probably).
The train station
Bike rooves! (Yes, rooves).
This is the breakfast room at our Inn, where we have butchered many a custom:
Day 2: checked out of Granvia, the main purpose of our visit (Lauren!) arrived, and we made our way down to her town, Yakage, together– via progressively smaller trains!
I made up for my 622 photos yesterday, by taking about 7 today.
Sunnier today, at least to start with:
We picked up snacks for the upcoming train travel – but did not purchase what is clearly a Spaghetti Hot Dog, but Lauren haughtily called a ‘noodle sandwich’:
Humorous side note: I recently had to (finally) update my phone iOS to the new version. Apparently, among other new features, it parses ones’ photos and creates a few types of “smart albums”– including one called ‘Selfies’. (ugh! A least favorite word- up there with veggies!)
It was on above mentioned bullet train I found said auto-curated album on my phone:
We transferred from the bullet train to a non-bullet train headed to Okiyama. Again, no photos. It was super rush hour! Standing room only, but met a lovely older woman who wanted to practice her conversational English. She described her visit to America, including the Wonders of Graceland, and Yosemite. She traveled across the US on (!) Greyhound and some Amtrack. I can’t imagine the sense of contrast between her transportation experience there and ours here! The Memphis (or any) Greyhound station alone must make for a fascinating page in her trip album.
In Okiyama, we transferred to Lauren’s ‘local train’ – one car long.
We commenced our wheeling suitcase parade for a ten minute walk through swirling snow and tiny streets to our AWESOME Inn – which I’ll post/take way too many photos of tomorrow.
Yakage-ya InnOur room is this one:
After settling in, and familiarizing ourselves with the wide range of footwear (wood slippers, slippers slippers, bathroom slippers), we headed back into the snow to walk to dinner at an amazing Pancake-type food restaurant , which if this were an educational type blog, I would put the actual name of.
Tomorrow: while Lauren’s at work, Paul and I will explore Lauren’s little town and go to another nearby town!