Hi there Daniela... so our wonderful adventures continues...
We went from Kyoto to Nara. We all went nuts for this place... ate tons of sushi fermented in Persimmon leaves, saw the famous deer, and had the best pizza ever out of a food truck!
Also, we passed through Osaka and went to Spa World, which is a place that you either love or hate (in other words, over-the-top or tacky). You see, Daniela, it is a MASSIVE SPA complex in this sprawling city. I have to admit, that I loved the outdoor creeks and tubs, plus the salty saunas and hot tubs, even though at times it was noisy.
We decided to do a quick detour into Shikoku. This is a spot I’d spend more time in. It is Zen, quiet and remote. There are almost no tourists, especially during the winter. The locals are hospitable and accommodating. This place is much more laid-back than other parts of Japan. The rural views are stunning. The trains are small and quiet. We stayed in Seiyo at Omeguri-an where we had our own traditional house, not including breakfast and energy healing.
It isn’t easy to get there, however I recommend it. There was a plum blossom festival in February and the climax of the trip for me. Coming earlier in the year means seeing plum blossoms instead of cherry blossoms, and I love plum products. The Nanrakuen gardens were the prettiest gardens we saw in Japan so much so that we stayed until the end. If you are there at the right time, please go to an ume (plum) or umeshu (plum wine) festival anywhere you can. Lots to taste and purchase... YUM!
So, at this point, we went from Shikoku and took the ferry from Yawatahama to Beppu, Oita.
Daniela: This place is mind-blowing. It is a UNESCO Heritage site and comes highly recommended. It's called "onsen land" (hot spring). Unless you are there to experience it, one cannot really imagine it. The whole city is an onsen as well as surrounding areas, where there is an active volcano. The sulphurous steam coming out of the street vents and the waters running under the foot bridges are EVERYWHERE. WOW. Once there, you have choices to visit private onsens, or public ones. There are also grass saunas at Kannawa Steam Bath up in the mountains with hotels. It is wonderfully luxurious, as you can imagine. Once done visiting, off we went to Yufuin and then to Beppu, which is another beautiful place. We stayed at a privately owned onsen all the way up the hill past the well-known Shoya no Yakata onsen. The mount is gorgeous, and the the shopping is adorable with the parks right there. Once there, you MUST have the medal-laiden cheesecake from Milch!!
Ohhh and you must go to The Seven Hells Jigoku – this is by far THE most hardcore of the onsens (hence why they call it the Seven Hells). These are seven different onsens that you can visit and look at but not go into because they are so extreme, meaning that it includes red boiling lakes, boiling clay, and crocodile breeding. Other features there are spots to soak your feet, aquariums to see different species, speciality meals and a lovely greenhouse with a pond.
Here is the link for the virtual tour of seven hells of Jigoku.
That is all for now, my friend, and your travel mongers... until next week.
Mélissa Simard, owner of Round Table Food Tours
Montreal Event Planner has become the go-to authority in the event planning business, not only because of its reputable success, but also because of the expertise and professionalism of owner Daniela Caputo, who combs the globe on a regular basis to find the best destinations for her clients (and our readers!).