In the absence of snow monkeys, what can one do other than fill in the gap and become a monkey oneself, frolicking in the snow (SNOW!), frolicking in hot springs, frolicking all over the place
Ungodly hours seem to persistently follow me, like a divine plague of some sort. We had decided to take an early train to Yamadera (山寺), though one can see on Ioana’s face the ammount of regret she proposed to begin our adventure and the damnable hour of 8 AM.
Express train from Sendai to Yamadera took only about 20-30 minutes (and 700 円), and once there, my companion seemed rejuvenated by the possibility of many idiotic things to do. The weather was also unexpectedly warm and proceeded to melt my beloved snow (I havent seen snow in about one year!).
After a lady coming to greet us and give us a map, a right turn and some strairs, you are presented with an assortment of temples, Jizo statues (which I think in this area are for protection not so much for aborted babies), Omikuji…
… and snow trolls.
It’s all free around here, but then if you want to walk up (which everyone should) it’s a 300 円 fee. Off course, whilst the monetary price is not so much, we all seemed to pay in humiliation for attempting to climb to the temple upstairs.
The stairs reminded me of Indiana Jones’ boobytrapped caves and temples; it seems you don’t pay for anyone to clean the stairs. It’s a bit of entertainment, really.
The view from up was quite breathtaking, and I think the pictures can speak for themselves.
Japan is a candidate city for the Olympics in 2020, and, I must say, Romania has already found its representative for diving: Ioana Sala. On the way down, after I managed to my foot buried in snow (the floor collapsed), my dear friend managed to put up quite a show. The stairs, as I said, were all icy, and one particular long stripe was already shaped like a tube. She managed not only to slip and fall, but whilst she slipped and fell on her back she somehow turned on her stomach and was sliding down helpless (I had to put my foot down to stop this debauchery). The Sala Belly Flop.
After all the fun sliding down icy slopes, it was time for these monkeys to clean up and relax: ONSEN TIME! (Onsen is hot baths in Japan). We went to Sakunami (作並) which are between Sendai and Yamadera (so you could basically just take a train from Sendai if you dont want to visit the Temple as well). A bus awaits in the train station to take you to the resort (for free).
Yet relaxing isnt for free (1,500 円 entrance), after which you give your shoes and take flip-flops (which ensures the resort is all clean and nice). We roamed around, modelling and trying ever door to find secret entrances. Then, it was bath time!
Before we go past the door, let me explain how an onsen works: you will be fully naked. There are separate baths for women and men (at least here), and you go in, you take off your clothes, you have a little towel you can put on your private areas (but which should not enter the water, so you have to take it off when entering the bath. I didnt really wear it), shower then hop in. The baths were hot and nice, and these ones were outdoor so it was quite nice and relaxing. (Photos werent allowed, but, like, whenever did a sign stop me from doing something?).
Afterwards we returned to Sendai to roam a bit through a temple (Osakihachiman Jinja) and get some dinner.
After all the monkey business we got quite hungry, and ramen was in order.
We end the day in a high note: going to a shop called Don Quijote which sells, besides polaroids and sex toys, giant pockys and penis shaped chocolate (not in the sex shop area).
This post is part of a (fantastic, amazing, life-changing) series:
- Land of the Rising Sun (Japan #1)
- What the carp? (Japan #2)
- Of Fish and Men (Japan #3)
- Ioan dreams Sushi (Japan #4)
- Just my Luck (Japan #5)
- The Forest of Tennis (Japan #6)
- Let the drums beat! (Japan #7)
- Big fat men (Japan #8)
- Titanium (Japan #9)
- Snow Shenanigans (Japan #10)
- Sea Critters (Japan #11)
- An end to Japan (Japan #12)