MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo, now serving as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home Again

Departing KIX

We take off from KIX at 5:45 PM on the 28th and arrive at SFO at 10:45 AM the same day. I love time travel. About nine hours in the air, assisted by a 100mph jet stream. The sun was setting out of the window shortly after takeoff, but as we raced the earth's rotation east, we soon pulled the sun out of the Ocean again.


As usual, I have more intended posts and pictures than I had time to update during the trip. There are at least half a dozen more posts I plan to fill in over the next few weeks. If you are interested primarily in the Japan trip, the relevant posts with the Japan tag only will be linked here. Check back to see the missing posts.

Approaching SFO over Stanford University Campus

Ryokan Momijiya Bekkan Kawa No Iori - Part Deux

A Japanese ryokan can give you a different perspective.

After the river hike and our last night at the ryokan, I thought it deserved a recap and referral. As you might surmise from a prior post, it takes a particular kind of western traveler to appreciate the Japanese ryokan experience.

You must enjoy traditional Japanese food...





Dinner: "Surf and turf" Ryokan style ( this - of course - a small subset of the actual dinner)

Last breakfast served in room.

...expect limited English but great service from the staff...

MW with owner's wife and the staff that made our stay a pure pleasure.

... adjust to the ebb and flow of the ryokan schedule...



...slow down and relax...






...endure (in my case) the floor mat seating...


..and forgo technology for a few days.

While this last may not be required, if you find yourself on your cell phone, the intertubes, and watching TV while you are in a ryokan - well - then you kind of missed the point.

This was my first ryokan experience, and I found it to be a perfect a way to finish our first tour of Japan. I understand that ryokans are located in cities as well as in the country, but after enjoying two nights at Momijiya Bekkan Kawa no iori, I cannot imagine why you would want this experience a ryokan in the middle of a bustling Japanese city. Just one man's opinion.

The slow pace and profound quiet of a country ryokan simply takes you to another place.

Kiyotaki River

The peace and serenity of the ryokan was more than Stan and Lisa could bear. After breakfast, they head back to Kyoto for some more frenetic shopping on their last day in Japan.

The ryokan is located on the banks of the Kyotaki River. Sigrid and I were upgraded to a larger room (still with an individual outside bath) on the side facing the river. After a breakfast and exploring the grounds, Sigrid spends most of the day relaxing, soaking in the hot tub and enjoying the scenery. I find a well marked trail along the river, and took an extended four hour hike. Some snaps and video along the way...









Monday, April 27, 2009

Ryokan

For our last two nights in Japan we stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese travelers inn. The Lonely Planet Guidebook has a good description of what to expect:
As noted in the guide, ryokans can be pricey and typically charge by the individual vs the room. Sigird found a somewhat more reasonably priced ryokan using the Japanican website - the Momijiya Bekkan Kawa no iori located in the montains just outside of Kyoto. It was an inspired choice, a perfect antidote to two weeks of frenetic touring and sightseeing in the crowded shrines, temples. and cities. We decided to immerse ourselves in the Japanese country ryokan experience, so turned off the cell phone, ignored the TV, and abandoned the internet during our stay. The quiet took some getting used to. Actually unsettling. It also meant that blog post would be a bit delayed. Some scenes from our stay (Day 1):

The ryokan offers a free shuttle from a Kyoto train station. After about a 40 minute drive into the hills, we arrive in a light rain, and walk across a suspension bridge to check in.

Stan and Lisa get settled in their new digs....

We explore the grounds...



Before dinner, we meet in the lobby sporting our comfortable yakutas.

Dinner was served in a dining room with other guests. It was a traditional Japanese dinner with many courses of small portions of local specialties, heavily weighted to seafood.

One concession was made to the Westerners with old knees - We were offered table and chairs rather than the traditional mat seating.

The staff was impressed that we ate everything they put in from of us. In reality, Stan and I ate all of our courses, and half of Sigrid and Lisa's portions. I love the food. A selection of some of the courses served:













During dinner, the rooms are reconfigured with futons for the night...


Early bedtime, but not before a relaxing outdoor bath...