A Very Surreal Hot-Spring Ryokan

A Very Surreal Hot-Spring Ryokan

[ Sept.2018 ] The next place we visited in the Oga Peninsula in the Akita prefecture in Japan was Oga Aquarium GAO.

In fact, the reason we had decided to visit Oga Peninsula was that my husband, who loves aquariums, had found this one on the internet and wanted to visit there.

This aquarium is located on the seafront and we enjoyed the view with the sea sprays.

The highlight of the aquarium was, strangely, a polar bear, though.

Apart from the bear, there was a big tank full of local fish.

Unfortunately, there were not many tropical fish, my husband’s favourite.

We saw a show of sea lions and seals, which was enjoyable.

After the aquarium, our friend went to Akita city to stay there and we waited for the ‘Namahage Shuttle’, a shared taxi going around the sightseeing spots within the Oga Peninsula.

To take this shuttle, we needed to book in advance.

A mini bus came to pick us up and one another group of people shared this service with us.

We arrived at our Ryokan (a Japanese style hotel) in the Oga Hot-Spring Village, called Banseikaku.

We had a very surreal experience here.

When we arrived there, there was nobody at the entrance, at the reception or at the shop.

Eventually, a young man came out to the reception and he explained the absolute minimum necessary.

I wondered if he was a student working there part-time.

There was no one to guide us to our room (that service is something normal in Ryokans), so we looked for our room ourselves and took a lift.

This short journey surprised us and made us nervous, because the corridor and the lift were all very old, so much so that my husband and I said each other, “We have come to a very strange place”, “This will be another extraordinary experience”.

The door of our room No.401 was shabby, too, so we opened the door fearfully.

Then, we were surprised again to see the automatic soft light turn on and the rooms were some of the best we have ever stayed in.

There were two rooms: one was with a table and chairs on the tatami mat and the other was the spacious bedroom with two fairly big beds.

There was a large sink and the water from the tap came out automatically when we put our hands near it, which is unusual in a Ryokan room.

The reason we chose this particular Ryokan was that we had found that they offer the private hot spring bath free of charge and this private bathroom was as nice as the room.

It was large and stylish.

We could not work out the reason for this mismatch and felt as if we had been bewitched by a fox or something.

It seemed that there were no other guests in this Ryokan.

In fact, apart from the young man we saw at the reception, we did not see anyone when we were enjoying the bath, so my husband said “Maybe he is now cooking our dinner”. 

However, the person who brought our dinner to the room was a young woman.

She seemed to be another part-timer, because she explained the food as if she was repeating things that she had just memorised.

The dinner itself was gorgeous, including grilled bream, fried Japanese sandfish (the local speciality), crabs, another local speciality called Kiritanpo Nabe (hot pot with rice sticks, chicken and vegetables) and so on.

Everything was very nice and tasty.

The next morning, the same woman brought us the Japanese style breakfast to the room, too.

Again, the food was very good.

When we checked out, finally an older woman who seemed to be the hostess of this Ryokan came out.

She was nice and friendly, but I did not have enough courage to ask about the mismatch, so we left still feeling that it was a mysterious place.

I think I will never forget this Ryokan.

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