Posts Tagged ‘ Hyogo-ken ’

_Dancing Over Kyoto_ – A new, just published Ebook.

Friends and followers of this site know that this has been a work-in-progress for some time. A love letter, tribute, homage and tragicomedy.  Link to the Amazon purchase site below.

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Available at Amazon.com.  Dancing Over Kyoto:  A Memoir of Japan, China & India.

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Kinosaki Onsen 城崎温泉 – Updated, 2012.

Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) is located in the Southern third of Japan’s main island, Honshu, on the western, Sea of Japan, side.  Onsen means “hot springs” and the small, coastal town of Kinosaki is full of them.  I’ve been to Kinosaki more times than I can count because it’s a Hyogo Prefecture town and I live in Hyogo years ago.  It’s been over ten years since my last visit to Kinosaki, though, having traveled and stayed there with someone I used to know back in early October 2011.  I introduced her to Kinosaki.  If, after learning about Kinosaki below, you want to read a harrowing tale of our first night in town, I invite you to read this original and true tale:  “K i n o s a k i.”

Willows along the Otani-gawa (Otani River) in central Kinosaki. October 2001.

The ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) we stayed in Mikuniya (see my own photos below), though, as mentioned, my memories of Kinosaki predate that experience by more than ten years.

I plan to supplement this post — with history, reminiscences, information — here and there.  For now, though, I just wanted to post some Kinosaki photos from 2001, and share a Kinosaki story from back in late 1990.  First, though, two maps to orient you to Kinosaki Onsen, first a national map, then a close-in view of Japan’s Kansai Region, where you can see Kinosaki Onsen in the upper left:


More photos from Kinosaki:

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We hiked up this mountain, turned around and saw this view of Kinosaki. Oct 2001.

We hiked up this mountain, turned around and saw this view of Kinosaki. Oct 2001.

Kinosaki Onsen. Morning Walk. October 2001.

Bathing Procedure
The public hot springs all have separate bathing sections for males and females. One can change out of their clothes and leave their possessions and drying towel in the dressing room lockers. Usually no bathing suits are worn in the bath. One should first cleanse and rinse oneself off at the showers or faucet, away from the bath itself. Be careful to have rinsed away all soap and shampoo before entering the hot spring bath. Enjoy!

Note:  a pretty good (and oh-so-true-and-autobiographical) communal bath-and-what-happened-afterwards scene in China in this story, Delegation.

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Students Sketching on Bridge over the Otani. October 2001.

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Stamp from Kinosaki Station, October 2001. Many train stations have their own memento stamps for travelers and tourists to use.

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Different view, looking down on Kinosaki while hiking up the mountain. October 2001..

Kinosaki Outskirts. October 2001.

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Students on their way to school. Kinosaki. October 2001.

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Mirror, Mirror… Yes, that’s a reflection. Kinosaki. October 2001.

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Train noodles through Kinosaki. October 2001.

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Mikuniya ryokan (traditional inn). October 2001.

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Our first night in Kinosaki we had dinner in our room.  Shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ), a favorite .  .  .

Shabu-shabu at Mikuniya. October 2001.

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Family out for a stroll. Kinosaki Onsen. October 2001.


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A Short, True Kinosaki Story

– Originally told in this post on Sake –

There’s a word in Japanese, YukiMiZake (雪見酒), made by the characters for Snow, See or View, and Sake.  It means to sit and sip (hot) sake while watching the snow fall.  Once, on an ice-cold, moonless evening in December 1990, when I was living in rural Hyogo Prefecture a couple of friends and their wives bundled me into one of their cars and we all drove up to Kinosaki, the onsen, or hot spring, town up on the Sea of Japan.  It was just a little over an hour’s drive from the little town where we lived.  One of my friends was very well-to-do.  He and his wife owned a vacation home on the sea.  When we arrived at this beautiful log home the first thing we did was build a little fire in the pot-bellied stove (imported from Vermont) in the center of the living room, while the women unpacked groceries and began preparing dinner.  They told us, the three guys, to go ahead and get in the onsen while they cooked.  Along with my two friends, I did as I was told.  The onsen was just out back, connected to the house.  The house itself was built on a bluff above and facing away from the sea, so that the back of the house overlooked the churning waves below.  The onsen, a large hot tub fashioned into the rocks and boulders behind the house was on the receiving end of pipes sunk deep, bringing steaming water up into it from below the earth.  It seemed to be clinging to a ledge above the surf, who knew how far below.  As it was night I couldn’t see out into or down towards the water.  The lights from just inside the back alcove lit the onsen area.  We stripped to our natural selves, and got in the scalding hot water, feeling the energizing, and somehow relaxing contrast, between the steaming water and the frigid air.  A few moments later one of the wives brought out a tray on which was a well-warmed tokkuri (ceramic flask) and three sake cups.  Only a moment after sake pours were exchanged and toasts were made (“Kampai!”  乾杯!  –  To the bottom of the cup!), and the first sips of delicious atsukan (hot sake) were taken, we each sat back against our respective sections of onsen, sighed with contentment and, then, watched the snow begin to fall.

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Route 11 runs south between Kinosaki and Takeno.  Small villages and stunning views in between . . .

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One of many scenes off Route 11 between Kinosaki & Takeno. Spring 1991.

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Another scene off Route 11 between Kinosaki & Takeno. Spring 1991.

Nearby, a little over 10 years later . . .

Nearby, just off Route 11 between Kinosaki & Takeno. October 2001.

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Stories.

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Over the past several months, since I began self-publishing some of my short stories, I’ve received some encouraging responses from both long time friends and new-to-letsjapan.wordpress.com  (former)  strangers.  Some have commented at the end of the stories, some of my “Facebook Friends” have written complimentary things through that conduit and a few people have just sent nice emails.  Thank you.  Currently, several more stories are “in the works”.  I plan on beginning to post those over coming weeks.  And still more are “in development”, as they say.  Stay tuned.

Anyway, I thought I’d pause and run through the list (see atop this Front Page) and give a line or two synopsis of each story, for those who either haven’t even thought to check them out, or for anyone who wants to know what they’re all about before diving into any of them.

Along the Sea of Japan

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Estuko,my short epic.  A love triangle/quadrangle that plays out over the course of a year, from rural Japan to Deep South America, and eventually reverberates though almost two decades.  Obligation: a conversation between me and a Japanese Teacher-of-English about the word “Obligation” (or, “Duty”), its use on a nationally broadcast radio program the night before, and how an otherwise culturally pitch-perfect American expat mortified listeners throughout Japan (or made them die laughing, whichever may be the case).  Sparkle of Your China (actually, this story’s named “Delegation”, but I like linking via “Sparkle of Your China”) —  A small group of “local delegates” from Alabama learn some of the business, cultural and political ropes over the course of several days in Northern China.  Canadians Do Kobe, wherein my Cunuck friend, Lois, and one of her friends from “back home” enjoy Kobe.  The story ends with a couple of twists, and pretty much fails to answer the question:  “How do you apologize to someone for something you dare not discuss with or admit to them?”  If that sounds confusing, just read it and you’ll understand.  India Brain Gametells of my serial misadventures in an attempt to meet a prominent neuroscientist on behalf of a client.  From masala chai on the side of the road, to armed guards, to botched translations (entirely my fault, of course, as I’m on their “home turf”), to Hindware.
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In the small town of Iwai-cho, an hour or so outside of Kyoto.

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A Night in Kyoto—  I and someone I used to know savor a low-key night on the town.  We eat, drink, argue, laugh and love against the backdrop of beautiful and ever-quirky Kyoto.  Enlightenment,  wherein I’m invited to meditate with several of “the guys” at my neighborhood Temple.

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Please feel free to stop by my Photo Galleries, too, also accessible by just clicking the gallery link atop this page.  As a an invitation and for your information, I should also mention that if you go to the bottom of this page you’ll see where you can click a tab for “Older Entries”, which go back to this previous autumn, summer and late spring of ’09, when I started-up this whole thing.  Enjoy.

Kinosaki Onsen.  Autumn 2001.

どうぞごゆっくり . . .