The futons have been laid out in our room, on the tatami mats where a low table with two chairs once stood (from one of which I managed to stand up from without throwing my back out, following a nine course (or so) Kaiseki meal). Hiiragiya Ryokan is an old inn that’s only a few blocks from the very different hotel where we spent the previous four nights. But it seems miles and decades away, sort of lost in time.
Our room is very traditional, low wood ceilings, tatami mats, bamboo screens, a glass back window looking out onto a Japanese garden. I can hear water tricking outside but little else. We have taken two long baths, as is the tradition here, which was relaxing after traipsing around all day in the heat.
Our meal was served one course at a time by a polite young woman in a kimono, lots of things we’ve never eaten before (“sushi of horse mackerel,” “dipped and broiled burdock wrapped with eel in soy-based sauce” etc). Not our kind of food but definitely a memorable cultural experience.
We have tried to get into the groove here but there’s been laughter too and Dirck has been a good sport, padding around barefoot in his new yukata (robe.) For lunch, the ryokan folks suggested a traditional in yakitori restaurant, Kushikura, nearby where we sat a modified Japanese seats watching the chefs meticulously grilled meat and vegetables on skewers.
Last night we went to Honke Odawara, a soba noodle place that has an outpost on the the 7th floor of the elegant department store Takashamaya, whose food stands we visited today. Wish me luck sleeping…