Thursday, December 8, 2016

Iwanoyu at Seni Onsen, Suzaka, Nagano, Part II

More on Iwanoyu at Seni Onsen, or more specifically, their 5 private baths. Not wanting to lose daylight, hubby and I did a walk-through and took pictures, with plans to come back later and take our time to soak and relax.

Apparently everyone else had the same idea (ha!), so we ended up hanging out and chilling while waiting for the private baths to open up. I suppose this is the reason the ryokan has so many resting spots and small libraries.

Here's private bath 1, which was actually kind of boring to be honest. There were two indoor pools and the water wasn't that hot. This could only mean this was a family bath accommodating small children. And yes, there were small children. We caught a glimpse of the family next door to us, a grandmother, a mother, and their toddler. The toddler was babbling about big sis, dad, and grandpa, so we knew it was a family of six in another of the two biggest rooms in the ryokan. 

Lots of areas to see and linger.

Also, what I thought was really neat about the ryokan was that they had built around several old tree stumps. Instead of cutting down the stumps and get rid of them, the original owner thought it'd be cool to incorporate them into the house. I mean, why not? Gives the place character if you ask me. Gave me a whole new appreciation for the concept of tree-hugging ^.^

At resting spots like this, we found pitchers dispensing fresh hot green tea and cold mugi (barley) tea. There were also two trays, one for clean cups and glasses and the other for used ones. And yet other than hubby, you won't see another soul in any of my photos. It was as if the place was deserted even though the ryokan had at least a few dozen staff members. The only other folks we came across was an older couple who were the ryokan's regulars. The husband busted out some English as soon as he saw my hubby ^.^ We ran into them again the next day when we checked out, and what do you know, they were booking their next visit in the coming month as they were settling their bills.

Going on up to more private baths.

Here's private bath 2, with one indoor pool and two outdoor pools that look out into verdant mountain and hills. This ryokan is tucked away pretty far up the mountain, with a special bus that only comes into the area twice a day, once in the morning, once in midday. If you missed both buses, you're pretty much screwed ^.^"

Going on to even more private baths and we found ourselves a lovely outdoor lounging hut and a lookout area.

And guess what, next to the lounging hut there's a small reading room with partial glass ceiling, complete with a hammock. You know, so you can sit and read, or turn off the lights and climb into the hammock to star-gaze instead. Lots of thoughts and considerations went into the construction of this place.

Moving on to private bath 3.

This private bath has one indoor and one outdoor pool with a wooden footpath leading to a trail in the woods. I guess we were there too late, because it was sunset and we found the gate locked.

Private bath 4 has one indoor pool and two outdoor pools, this one too has a wooden footpath leading out to a trail in the woods. Again, the gate was locked but I was able to climb up a rock and peek over.

Private bath 5 was identical to private bath 4, so I didn't bother taking photos of it.

Next up: the kaiseki dinner, the women's bath, and the main attraction cave bath!

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