Friday, July 21, 2006

Weekend ride to Yuwaku Onsen

I hereby apologize for the distinct lack of photographic content lately. Honestly between the pouring rain and the damp heat, I haven't been doing much that merit's bringing along my camera. Afterall, weekend Lost Marathons do not an epic blog post make!

How cool is that name?

Well we had a three day weekend last weekend (Thanks Marine Day) and Nate and I had planned to take the time to ride up into the wilds of the Noto Peninsula, North of Kanazawa. We soon realized that our ambition outstripped our bikes, and certainly our legs. Riding some 100 or more km in three days just wasn't in the cards.

The Onsen Building

Plus, the weather forcast for the late weekend called for drenching rain, and who wants to ride and camp in that? Not I! So we set our sights a little lower, and decided to ride into the mountains to Yuwaku Onsen. Just in case you have forgotton, an onsen is a naturally fed hotsprings bath. Bathing suits need not apply. They are perhaps the most relaxing form of bathing ever invented, and most people around here are addicted. Since Nate is going home in a litte over a week now, this was his last chance at an onsen dip.

Despite the rather epic heat and humidity, we gamely set off from the Katamachi Starbucks. Going up the hill by Kenrokuen had me convinced that this was a Baaad Idea! Despite the impulse to turn around and head for the beach, or at least some air conditioning, we pressed on out of the city and into the hills.


It was great. Simply great. It was so nice to get out of the city. Obviously Kanazawa is no Tokyo, but it's still a sizable city, and the constant press of people can get tiresome. Riding along a twisty little mountain road gazing at forests and rice fields was just what the doctor ordered.

The thatched snow storage shed of Yuwaku

I must admit that with the exercise and the heat and humidity, I have never sweat so much in my life. The phrase "drenched in sweat" holds all new meaning for me now. It was cascading off my forehead into my eyes and across my glasses. It was horrid. As long as we were moving the self created breeze helped, but as soon as we stopped, for a break or photos, the full impact of the heat whalloped us over the head.


The bath itself was great, but honestly a hot bath after a hot ride is not exactly the most refreshing thing one can do. Luckily they do have the cold showers, and I found that after soaking for a while dumping a ton of icy water on my head was akin to a religious experience. It felt amazing, absolutly amazing. Like running and jumping into a mountain waterfall on a hot day in the Rockies. Only better.

Up above the onsen we found a small shrine complex. One part was a shrine to Inari, the god of the harvest. As you may remember, Inari is my favorite Shinto deity for his fox followers and the awsome lanes of torii that line the shrines. On the other side of the shrine was a small thatched building that is used for storing snow.

Nate examines the wildlife

For ages there has been a festival where in the depths of winter a large amount of snow is tucked away. Then in the summer there is another festival where the snow is brought out, though I'll admit I am unsure what it is used for now. That second festival has already happened, so by the time we got there the building was mostly empty, but there was a small layer of filthy snow in the bottom of the pit. I almost jumped in!

On our way home we detoured into a rice field and found the times square of Japanese bugs. This slope of dense vegetation was alive with insects. It was actually kind of scary. You'd see leaves shift and move and rather than say a nice fat frog, it was a nice fat cricket. Spiders almost the size of your hand, giant dragonflies and super grasshoppers.

Japan grows their insects big, and being the 10 year old boys we are, Nate and I just had to stop and check out all the activity. I fetched my zoom lense and we had a great time for 20 mintues or so, sneaking about and checking out the wildlife. We were careful never to venture too far into the shrubbery as some of those spiders looked rather mean.

Arriving back in Kanazawa after our 26 km round trip was fantastic. The airconditioning and fragrent curry of Coco Ichi Curry House lured us in for 1500 calories of katus and melted cheese on rice with curry sauce. And the exercise was negated! The heat had sapped us of all energy so we speedily abandoned our plans to ride to Uchinada Beach, and instead rode to my place to watch the greatest movie of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Zach said...

best restaurant sign ever

羽之助 said...

Agreement on the restaurant sign and your movie choice.