Last April, I went with a special tour with friends to Okayama. Actually I went to Okayama before, not for sightseeing, but just to transit from Hiroshima to Osaka. I got out of the train station, just to take a picture of Momotaro, the iconic character from a traditional storybook about a peach boy in Japan.
I thought, from my last transit in Okayama, that the city was very well developed and big! But I was wrong. This time I went here, I ended up at a hotel which was quite far from the station. And I suffered to have dinner at 8! Imagine, 8 o’clock when everything is closing down! For someone who lives in a big city, this is a shock!
We started to explore and ask people in the hotel which restaurant was still open until least until 9 or 9:30. Yes, there were izakayas still open maybe at least 12 am here, then we found one! It was an Indian restaurant that about 20 minutes away from the hotel, and also 15 minutes away from the station. We were saved by their curry rice and an all-you-can-drink menu. Phew!
Anyway, we thought that would be the most ‘rural’ experience here for us in Japan, but we were wrong! The next day, we were moved to another city, 2 hours away from Okayama City, but still in Okayama Prefecture, called Kagamino City.
The scenery along the way was very beautiful, but we all are wondering, when will this bus stop and give us a little break? Two-thirds of the way, the bus stopped at the Bun Bun Bee Factory. For foreigners, maybe this honey factory is a new thing, but for Japanese, this is the number one honey factory in the country! We are lucky that we could pass this factory, which was actually we stopped at the shop rather than the factory, to have a taste of the number one honey in Japan! And it really tastes so good!!
Then, after buying some honey and lemon drinks, we continued our journey to nowhere, about 15 more minutes. And we find ourselves in a modern building covering a traditional Japanese hotel. You know what I mean? It’s a modern building outside, but traditional inside!
From inside the hotels, you can see some ‘geta’, Japanese wooden sandals, for the guests who want to take a walk outside. Also, there is a nice ‘family-lobby’, because even though it’s a lobby, I can feel the warmth in the family room-like atmosphere here.
The hotels name is Itsuki, which provides Japanese traditional rooms, that can be rented to 4-5 people in a room!The room itself, has a genkan (little spot in a Japanese house, to put off the shoes and change into slippers), a family room that changes into a bedroom at night, and a little veranda, so you can join the scenery outside. The room just looks like a miniature Japanese house from the past era.
We are not just surprised by how lovely the rooms are, but also our dinner! We have our own little barbeque plate and grilled our own meat that was served. We ate the barbeque with the rice—as Japanese people do—also we have warm miso soup to make the Japanese-typical dish complete.
After the great dinner, take a turn from the lobby to the left, then you will find the onsen. This hotel provides dual indoor and outdoor onsens called rotenburo. You can feel the hospitality of Japanese in this onsen, and get chilled out.
All of the muscles are calmed down after you soak in the onsen, then you can pull out your ‘futon’, Japanese traditional bed. You have to pull the futon out of the closet and arrange it by yourself. It is so much fun, because you can choose wherever you want to sleep in the room.
At first, I thought the trip would be a disappointment, but it turned out to be one of the greatest trips of my life and everything associated with a great vacation to Japan.
So, have a nice stay and enjoy Kagemine!