Dartboard Journey (Vol. 2)

Yesterday the Dart Girls, Natsuko and Leah set out about 10:30 Am in the direction of Yu-no-Yama Hot Springs. Natsuko claimed there is a very old and funky hot spring where we can take a bath without being an overnight guest. We found the hot springs turn-off and parked our car. Up these steps and veering off to the left, we found the entrance.

Entrance to Yu-no-Yama Hot Springs

Entrance to Yu-no-Yama Hot Springs

At the foot there is an “ashi-yu” facility where people can sit down and soak their feet in the hot water piped in from the hot spring. It’s free but there was a donation box so you could drop a coin in if you want.

Foot bath (ashi-yu)

Foot bath (ashi-yu)

Although we didn’t take a bath, we asked to see inside. Naked women were bathing so I didn’t take any shots in there! There is a utare-yu, or waterfall-like stream cascading down. Some people stand under it to get a massage when the water drums down on neck and shoulders. It sometimes hurts! but feels great after you get used to it.

Utare-yu

Utare-yu

The man sitting in the ticket booth at the bath was very friendly. Ritsuo Mitsui spoke to me in English a little bit and told me he’d visited Washington,D.C. and the Grand Canyon. He explained that this hot springs was first opened in 1750 and that the mineral waters there are good for stiff neck and for back pain.

I decided not to speak any Japanese and used Natsuko as my “more-or-less” translator. The day before, I’d read a column saying that Japanese treat foreigners better when they speak only a few words of Japanese. The TV announcer Hiroshi Kume once commented after interviewing an Indian man who was very fluent in Japanese, ” Gaijin wa katakoto no Nihongo no ho ga ii ne.” (It’s better if foreigners only speak broken Japanese!) So I spoke in only English. I found that people tried very hard to use their limited English on me and showed a lot of interest, gathering around and making suggestions.

Natsuko enjoys a laugh with Mr. Kobayashi

Natsuko enjoys a laugh with Mr. Kobayashi

This frequent guest at the baths, Kobayashi Yasuyoshi, even made plasters for my neck and knee which  consisted of a little ball of minerals and a sticky plaster tape. Finally he made me a present of a package of these rather expensive items!

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Going on down the hill, we saw an udon shop. There was no answer from within when we called out but I found this interesting rock in their garden as well as this antique radio sitting on the shelf.

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A Stranglely-shaped Stone

Antique radio in the noodle shope

Antique radio in the noodle shop

Next door was a Japanese inn and restaurant. I was told it costs 9000 yen to stay overnight and have dinner and breakfast. The chef, Kazuaki Morii said the menu in June includes ayu, a freshwater fish which is a delicacy in Japan. His son was kind to us when we tried to raise some response at the Hotaru Chaya tea house next door.

Hotaru Tea House

Hotaru Tea House

Natsuko found a poster for an exhibition of folk art miniature houses and figures. She wanted to go inside but the door was locked. We saw that the Tea House is closed on Wednesdays. That’s when Morii’s son came over to help us. He knocked and called for someone to open up. We were invited to come upstairs and see the exhibit.

Shohei Uchiyama, artist

Shohei Uchiyama, artist

The artist himself was there and gave us a private tour. the buuildings aんd houses he has recreated are actual structures, some of which have since been demolished. The theater in Kumamoto even had a kabuki play in progress with a big audience watching. Another building was a YMCA designed by the architect Vories .

A Scene from around 1930-1940

A Scene from around 1930-1940

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Kabuki Theater in Kumamoto, Japan

Family Home of the Yoshii's

Family Home of the kikkawa’s in Hyogo, Japan

This artist,  Shohei Uchiyama, is 64 years old and told us that he is now partially paralyzed on one side of his body. He lives in Kyoto and was here for a month-long exhibit. We were luck to have met him. He has exhibited in new York City, and all over Japan. He gave me a poster in a gesture of friendliness.

By then, we were getting hungry and looked around for somewhere to eat. It seems all these traditional Japanese restaurants were closed here on Wednesday. We saw a shop with noren (curtains hung in entrance to a shop) that said Okonomiyaki. This layered pizza-like dish is famous in Hiroshima. We entered and each ordered one with noodles, pork and egg. (680 yen).

Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima-style)

Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima-style)

It is cooked on a big griddle in front of us and the shop owner always asks if you want to eat it hot directly from  the griddle or on a plate. We both have “cat’s tongue” or nekojita in Japanese which means we can’t eat piping hot things! So it was served to us on a plate.

The young Setsu

The young Setsu

The owner was very friendly and finally  we were shown a picture from her younger days when she was a starlet. It turns out she was hte first wife of Umemiya Tatsuo! ( a very famous actor and father or the actress Anna Umemiya!)

Setsuko Daimon at Yu-no-Yama Okonomiyaki House

Setsuko Daimon at Yu-no-Yama Okonomiyaki House

As we left, Setsu saw us off to our car and urged us to come again!

All in all we had a great day and met lots of interesting people. It is really inspiring to see the things other people do or are knowledgeable about! I’m eager to go out on another adventure with Natsuko again. (Natsuko, you did pretty darn good with translating for me all day! I’m proud of you!) i really think Hiroshima TV should put the Dart Girls on a weekly show!!

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky nielsen
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 10:43:10

    Another great journey! You two really should be on tv!

    Reply

  2. Garnette Arledge
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 11:20:13

    Beautiful writing. Agree with Becky as you find such wondrous people and settings.

    Reply

    • leahmama1
      Apr 26, 2013 @ 01:00:26

      I have a big language blank as I have lived away from the US for so many years. Blogging is good practice and sometimes I have to use a dictionary when I’m not sure of a nuance! Thanks for always reading!! It’s a big encouragement!

      Reply

  3. Vividhunter
    Apr 27, 2013 @ 13:44:31

    Looks like an awesome trip. I want to visit that onsen! Setsuko is still so beautiful ^^

    Reply

  4. leahmama1
    Apr 28, 2013 @ 05:53:05

    Isn’t she?! Yes. I plan to go back and take a bath next time! I guess it’s cheaper to bring our own towel and shampoo!

    Reply

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