The videos don't stop coming! We went to a lovely ryokan, called Asaya Hotel, which is actually a very large hotel-like space which has rooms that are modeled after traditional ryokan. If anything, I'd call it more of a super-sized ryokan! IES Abroad Tokyo actually made this as one of our field trips, thus it was paid originally along with our tuition. Additionally, we were lucky enough to catch the one day where it began to snow, which was one of the first times Tokyo (well, we weren't in Tokyo at the time) had November snow in 12 years or so.
Asaya Hotel is in Nikko, which resides in the Tochigi Prefecture, and it's well known for its strawberries, so many souvenirs that are available are strawberry themed or flavored! Don't forget to pick some up! Additionally, Nikko itself is well known for yuba and soba, so be sure to try those too while you're there! I personally know yuba as "tofu skin" as that's how I call it in Chinese, but they describe it here as the residue that's skimmed off and dried when you boil soybean milk... which, didn't sound very appetizing. Fresh yuba seems much softer though, and I prefer it not fresh, funnily enough. The texture I had it as at Nikko did make me gag, much to my tablemates' surprise (and probably disgust).
Anyways, back to the hotel! There was an open-air onsen on the rooftop, which had multiple baths and was usually open, and a 24 hour one at the bottom floor. They closed the rooftop at around 12 or 1AM or so to clean it, and then switch the men's and women's bath for the next day, so you can bathe on both sides of the roof if you use the bath on 2 different days. Additionally, the bottom floor bath had a stand with various shampoos and conditioners that you could choose from to use, as well as chemical peels for dead skin, foot massagers outside the bath, and even a nail painting station. There are also baths of varying temperatures, and I think we eventually learned we were supposed to go into the hot bath and then tighten our blood vessels/pores in the ice cold bath when we were leaving, but us being college students who like destroying ourselves, we just went into all of them as we pleased.
We enjoyed a traditional kaiseki meal as well for dinner! I have some video footage of that in the vlog. Unfortunately, I tied my yukata obi too tight and somehow gave myself a stomach ache and didn't eat nearly as much as I wanted to, which was truly a big, fat shame. There was a very large amount to eat though, so it was difficult to consume everything, especially as it was all coming out gradually. There is an order as to how they come out, and chefs usually try to highlight regional or seasonal specialities throughout the meal.
This was truly one of my favorite trips from IES Abroad Tokyo, so I highly recommend you try it if you have plans!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Live every day to the fullest! I'm a proud Eph of Williams College, travelling around Tokyo and wherever else Japan may take me! I hope you'll stick around to see what I do, whether it's eating my weight in food or crying over my tests. Trust me, I'll be doing plenty of both.</p>