Monday, January 9, 2017

Katsuragi no Sato, Takayama, Gifu, Part II

It was dinner time at Katsuragi no Sato, and C. and A. weren't there. So I went out and stood in the hallway to wait, and took a few photos while at it. I had permission from the grill-chef here to take a photo of him leaning over the floor hearth to grill onigiris for the dining guests. (Side note: if you're traveling in Japan and want to snap a picture of a local, it's best to ask for permission first or risk getting frowned at or even scolded, depends on the person. I was told it's super offensive to take pictures of strangers without their consent.)

Hubby stayed behind inside the private dining room until I brought our friends inside. The set up here was super cool. Each room came with its own table hearth!

Check out the menu: calligraphy on handmade paper. I wish I had kept it as souvenir :(

When we showed up, these ayu (sweetfish) were already grilled and kept warm in the hearth. Hubby and I were kind of nervous about this, not because we were scared ourselves. We already had our own introduction to fish on a stick at Iwanoyu, but we didn't know about our friends. What we did know was A. does not like fish. It was something about being accidentally served a bad (rotten? Ick.) fish when he was young and was (rightly) traumatized. 

But hubby and I said nothing, after all we're all adults. Having loved Japan enough to spend 3 weeks there on honeymoon, surely A. knew what he was getting into. I really must applaud our friends. They were some of the best traveling companions one could ever ask for: independent, open-minded, and willing to set aside personal biases and preconceptions to experience everything a place has to offer. Yes, A. knew what he was getting into. Yes, he ate his fish on a stick without a single complaint. And yes, he liked it. Sort of.

Oh boy. Deep breath.

There was plentiful of sake, though I was fine with my usual plum wine mixed with soda. Note my oddly-shaped glass. It may look round but was actually oval and tapered towards the base.

The meal commenced with small appetizers, then course upon course were brought out in succession.

The grill course included those onigiris pictured above.

Hubby trying to sneak a bite when no one was looking ^.^

Look at that marbled beef!

After the grilled course, we were served this plate and stared at it for good long a while.

"Is it sashimi?" A. asked. Fear twinged in his eyes, the poor thing.
"Yeah, it looks like fish." C. was sympathetic. "Give it to me. I'll eat it."
"Sashimi on slices of fresh peach, huh? Interesting." I added.

Being the sushi-sashimi noob, I had no idea what I was talking about. Hubby shook his head.

"Uhh...actually, I think this is chicken. Raw chicken." He said.
"No way!" I cringed, until he showed me the menu. "Sh*t. It is chicken!"

I mean, why was I even surprised? If I had to opt out of chicken sashimi in Ginza, why wouldn't there be raw chicken served at a mountain ryokan in Takayama, Gifu?

"Umm...what do we do?" C. asked apprehensively.
"Let's grill it?" I pulled up my shoulders, shifty-eyes and all. "The grill's still really hot, and no one's here to catch us cooking it."

Of course, the moment we loaded the grill with our raw chicken, our waitress walked in. We all squirmed awkwardly on our zabutons with huge grins on our faces. Totally busted. So much for being open-minded and experiencing everything a place has to offer. Ha.

My excuse was that I have to draw the line somewhere, and for me that line is, and always will be, raw chicken. I'll choke down raw fish when the situation calls for it, but I will not eat raw chicken. Thankfully, the rest of the meal was cooked. Phew.

After dinner, the ryokan staff insisted we attend the town festival, thrown in honor of ryokan guests. That was when we learned the area had several different onsen ryokans! Here's the crowd at the town festival, and note the different groups of yukatas, each presumably from a different onsen ryokan.

The grand finale of the show was this unicorn dance, a local version of the lion dance, only with a red-faced demon-like "unicorn" with a gazillion of bells and jingles attached. The dance ended up scaring the bejesus out of the attending kids, with one particularly inconsolable toddler shrieking and screaming in terror until the performance was over. Wow, traumatizing children is so not my idea of fun.

C. snuck a photo of me and hubby watching the unicorn dance. And before you think we were goofballs for posing with our hands, I should preface with a funny story about a Haruki Murakami book C. had brought along with her on the trip for the long flights, train rides, etc. In the author bio, Murakami had posed with his hand as if he was daydreaming when the photographer snapped the shot. The face he made was so hilarious that throughout our travels, we all would pose that way whenever the opportunity presents itself.

And upon some googling, turns out Murakami did this a lot. It's, like, his thang.
***Photos courtesy of the internet :P

On our walk back after the town festival, we stumbled upon a rest house and hung out there for a little while.

When we got back, I tiptoed into the women's public bath for a few photos while no one was there. Too bad it was too dark and I couldn't find where the outdoor bath was. It was supposed to be beautiful and I totally missed it! :(

Back in the main house of the ryokan, I finally had time for more photos of the tea room. Earlier, I only got glimpses of it while touring the place before dinner was served. Look at that gigantic hook for the tetsubin!

On our way down for breakfast the next morning, I squeezed in a couple more photos of this same tea room with daylight.

Breakfast was served in the same private dining room with a table hearth.

I was so fearful of another seam-busting meal like the one at Iwanoyu, but it turned out to be quite manageable for all of us. Don't get me wrong, we all were stuffed afterwards, just not the feeling-ill sort of stuffed.

I could only do one small serving from this giant pot of miso soup though.

My favorite part of breakfast turned out to be that bottle of milk there. I love my dairy, and the milk in Japan was really creamy and fragrant and I sorely miss that here at home.

More ayu to scare poor A., which we got to grill this time, spread out flat like a fan. It was actually the best grilled ayu I've had so far and I could probably eat several more of them!

Finishing up breakfast with a bowl of yogurt, jam, and honey.

Next installment: quick visit to C. and A.'s guest room prior to checking out, and wandering about the onsen town while waiting for our bus.

See my previous Katsuragi no Sato, Takayama, Gifu post.


Citrine said...

The chicken, 10/10 will cook...but I am just concened about salmonella. And I love chicken when it's fried/grilled... Hmm, now I need to buy some miso soup base...

I always wanted to do the dreamy girl post(but never because my face is tanner than my hands) but I think most people do it to make their face look smaller?

D. said...

Hey Citrine,

You know what the irony is? One of the most ubiquitous ads on the Tokyo metro is anti-diarrheal medicine. And every time I see such an ad, I think to myself, gee, if only y'all cook your chicken a little more, hmm?

The dreamy girl pose just makes me look like an idiot. But hubby does a pretty good job at looking funny most of the time!


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