|Open-air Onsen at Yamanoyado Bakken|
After spending a couple hours at Honjin enjoying our time of "doing nothing" - strolling leisurely on the ground without a purpose, taking pictures of the buildings and the surroundings, dipping in the various baths a few times - it's almost dinner time when the van took us back to Yamanoyado Bakken. The meal was served inside the dining hall around the irori, the traditional sunken hearth fueled by burning charcoal.
|Hitou Beer - available only in hitou inns|
The style of the dishes might be rustic, with many courses prepared on top of the irori, but no details were overlooked with all ingredients coming from local sources; some foraged, some house-grown. We began with the trio of seasonal sansai, or mountain vegetables, served as cold appetizer. The proprietor of the ryokan was known to go up to the mountains and forests to pick up mushrooms and vegetables to serve to their guests every day. More vegetables were then served on the grill, along with pieces of Hachimantai pork, a local breed from Iwate Prefecture next to Akita. Next came the seafood - iwana was seasoned with sancho, then slow-grilled on a stick right in the irori; thick slices of benimasu were marinated with kelp, seasoned with yuzu zest and served as sashimi.
|Tazawako JR Station - on the day of our departure|
Tsurunoyu Onsen: www.tsurunoyu.com
Japan Association of Secluded Hot Spring Inns: www.hitou.or.jp/en/
(Part of the Japan Rail Trip 2015 Series - a journey through the Tohoku region by rail in Spring 2015)