Cold and rainy weather defeats me in everything, waking up for school, going out on a date, leaving for work and heading out to meet with friends… even writing this blog (this was supposed to be published on a saturday morning). In Marikina, once it starts raining all of my plans to go out are automatically cancelled. At least in my mind everything gets cancelled or in my perfect world nobody has to get out of their bed on a rainy day.
When I moved here in Tokyo during winter, I forgot all about this and I woke up dreading the cold morning. I had to struggle to get out of the warm bed dreaming of our Manila weather. Luckily, a trip to Sendai introduced me to another side of this season in Japan.
Winter is the best time to spend a night at the onsen (hot springs). My husband chose Sendai since it’s about 2 hours away by shinkansen (bullet train). I’ve never watched a travel blog about Sendai so I had no idea aside from what food to try. I watched a video of Chris Broad in his youtube channel abroad in japan, in which he tried several restaurants/food that we could try while in Sendai.
From Ueno we took the shinkansen and arrived at Sendai station. Then we rode the hotel’s shuttle service from Sendai to Sakunami. As we headed north-west, I started to see traces of snow and by the time we arrived at Ichinobo hotel, it was already snowing.
The onsen we visited was Sakunami Onsen, I included a link so you can check out the location. We stayed at Ichinobo Sakunami, the trouble here is that it’s not really foreigner friendly. The staff do not speak english and there’s not much english signs/maps. However, in their website you can call the number then push option 2 for the reservations where we were told that 2 people can speak in english.
Anyway, they have three outdoor onsens and I’m guessing four more indoor pools. In the girls bathing area there’s two pools while the three outdoor onsens were divided between men and women. When we arrived there the biggest onsen is for women only while the men get the other two. On the next day they switched it.
In the girls’ bathing area they provide at least two brands of hair care products and body soaps. Same with the facial cleansers, they have liquid, oil and foam. Oh and the bottles have english labels so I know what I’m talking about lol. In the changing room they have hair dryers and flat irons, complete with hair combs.
They also have these bottles labeled ‘emulsion’ and ‘skin lotion’. My dilemma was, I don’t know if it’s for the face or the body.
After taking a bath we changed back to our robes and head out to the outdoor onsen. It was a perfect night outside since it was snowing and I find it mesmerizing. There was also a small sauna but it was too steamy for me so I didn’t go inside. When we were done, we head back upstairs for dinner. The buffet was great and I find the salad, steak and tempura delicious. Eventually, we realized that I’m the only foreigner around. The couple next to us was intrigued and started talking to my husband. Anyway, we ended up the last couple to leave the dining area and the staff were surprisingly friendly.
I had too much wine that night and their pillows were unusually hard, so I woke up early with a terrible headache. Fortunately, the onsen opens early so we headed down to the hot springs. It was still snowing and after about 5 mins in the water my head started to feel better.
My husband showed me his dry skin and it actually looks much better after dipping in the water. He went there at least five times while I did three because I need more time in the bathing area, drying my hair and all.
It snowed until morning so everything’s covered in snow, I barely ate my breakfast because I was too busy watching the scene from the window. It felt like a giant snowball without feeling trapped.
Breakfast was quite decent . My husband said they were surprisingly friendly for a japanese staff. I don’t know what it meant but I guess they don’t get foreign guest often.
This is a pretty long blog but I’d like to mention the food we tried while in Sendai.
When we arrived there in Sendai, we stopped by a ramen shop since we still had time to spare before our shuttle leaves. The next day, before heading back to Tokyo, we tried Sendai’s gyutan.
Ramen was delicious, I mean it’s my favorite food so don’t take my word for it. For the gyutan, I was hesitant because I was associating the taste of liver when thinking about it. Apparently, gyutan is beef’s tongue and I felt so stupid to think its consistency was similar to a liver meat. It was the best grilled meat I’ve ever tried! It was soft, chewy and juicy. Ugh, now I’m craving for it.