Saturday, October 3, 2009

Takanosukan, Sakamachi (1/2: Room; 鷹の巣館、新潟県坂町)

I liked this onsen so much that I want to write two posts about it - one with lots of location shots and then one with pictures of dinner (I'll skip breakfast if you don't mind). This is a bit far away - about 3.5 hours from Tokyo Station if you time things correctly - but was pretty close to my ideal onsen. It might be even better if it was snowing!

Takanosu Onsen is one of a series of hot springs along the length of a medium sized river valley containing Sekigawa town. From Tokyo, you take the shinkansen to Niigata on the Japan Sea coast, then take a smaller train about an hour north to Sakaguchi, then you have the staff from the inn come and pick you up. You have to call them when you get there, because if you try to book a car in advance, they forget...oops.

The onsen and inn are on the far side of the river, and are much more secluded than the other springs in this valley. From the main road, we went down a small, twisty road through the woods, then drove across a narrow wooden suspension bridge (the Kei car from the inn just fit on the bridge. Someone was walking, and we had to 'walk' behind here because there's no room for a person to stand to the side for a car to pass.). The river is great there...

Especially with artistic sunlight in the shot. This bend in the river and the rapids are like having a white-noise generator outside your room - since each of the rooms is actually a house, directly facing the river. Although I feel bad about likening a feature of nature to a transistor.

Since each of the rooms is separate and they're all built along the river, you have to walk behind them to get to yours. This covered walkway with noren all along it would keep you dry if it wasn't beautifully sunny.

Matsu was bigger than most people's apartments, and would be a good-sized house by most standards. With no lock, the door really reminds you of peaceful times in the country when doors were wooden and sliding and everyone knew everyone else's business instinctively.

The interior hallway just felt luxurious. You could sleep here, but in this context it's just for walking. And for putting in a feature with rocks and pebbles.

Air freshener in the entryway.

View through the main room into the bedroom on the left. If you're keeping score, the main room was 10 mats and the bedroom was 8 mats. Especially in Tokyo, you can definitely find 6 mat apartments. With the doors open, this is a big, beautiful expanse of tatami.

With a Matsu-themed scroll in the tokunoma.

Most impressively, the front of the house was this large sunroom area with a view across the grassy knoll to the river and mountain beyond. Sunny now, but mainly south-facing, so not excessively hot.

The baths aren't that impressive, but there are still two of them, you can control the temperature of each independently, and they're in the room. And the outer one, of course, faces the river (and the two roads that run along the river, but never mind that).

View shot.

View from the outside bath.

And again from the outside bath, over the river. The leaves were just starting to change color, probably due to being in the river's course and getting less sun.

Last shot from the bath, I promise. But this hill, with the little shelter on top (that I did NOT hike up to) was pretty. Great for contemplation, either while dipped in hot water or just sitting on the couch in a robe with all the windows open.

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