We spent the night at a traditional Japanese-style inn while at Nikko. It is worth describing this experience because it was unlike anything that I had ever done before.
As seen in the pictures, the inn overlooked the lake. It was on the edge of a small resort village and had its own hot mineral springs. The interior of the inn was traditional Japanese style with tatami floors everywhere except the reception area and the bathhouse. We left our shoes at the door and used slippers inside. I actually don't remember if we had separate slippers or just used tabi, or Japanese socks, while inside. I do know that we were issued the tabi.
Dinner and breakfast were served in our room. I can't quite remember, but I think there was a small table brought in for the food and we sat on pillows on the floor while we ate. I know the meal included soup, fish and tea but I don't recall any more detail that that. One thing that really struck me was that the breakfast was identical to the supper. I had grown up like most Americans, and Europeans for that matter, eating special breakfast foods so this was an eye-opener. Ever since this I have been much more inclusive in my breakfast menu -- often eating leftovers for breakfast.
I don't remember if we had reserved a private session in the bath or if we just got lucky, but as it happens we were the only guests in our section of the bathhouse. As at Peco's house we showered first and then soaked for a while in the mineral springs, which were very hot.
After our bath we dressed in special robes provided by the inn and went for a stroll around town. The inn also provided traditional shoes, or geta, to wear outside with our special socks. It took some practice to walk securely in the geta!
As a resort town, there were lots of open-air shops and cafes. We enjoyed "window shopping" and the views over the lake. There were plenty of people around, but I was the only westerner. Thankfully everyone was very polite.
After our walk, I asked Peco if another visit to the hot springs would be allowed. YES, it was! I was hooked. The springs were so relaxing! When we finally returned to our room, the futons were in place and we went right to bed. I can still remember what a delicious sleep I had!
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