Left Shinjuku Station for Kofu; Very crowded downtown during rush hour in Shinjuku Station. We had a 1 1/2 hour train ride through small towns, rice fields and lots of agricultural plots. Kofu is a relatively small town surrounded by mountains. Pete rented a Prius, with steering wheel on the right side and driving on the left side of the road; this takes awhile to get used to especially with the turn signal on the right and the windshield washer on the left. We drove 1 hour to Lake Kawaguchi and our first glimpse of Mt. Fuji, somewhat shrouded in clouds. We parked next to the lake and Keith began to photograph ducks, swallows, geese and heron. We drove to the south side of the lake and Fuji began to come into view much better. Lots more photos.
We arrived at the Maruei Ryokan exactly at 3 p.m. No less than 5 hotel staff greeted us in the parking lot, welcoming us and helping with the bags. They ushered us to a brief tea and explained the onsen system: Boys’ baths, girls’ baths, washing instructions, etc. We followed a lovely girl to our room where she explained the baths again, dinner and breakfast hours, and fitted us for our Yukata robes for the bath and dinner. We sat enjoying beautiful views of the lake and were off to dinner at 6 p.m.
Dinner was a sumptuous affair starting with the local Katsunuma wine, vegetables with tofu water and crystal jellyfish. Then we had a collagen mixture “to make us beautiful persons.” Next course was sashimi tuna, rockfish, long arm shrimp, followed by lava beef fillet cooked on a plate over a sterno flame, then another fish dish of scallops, sea urchine, and squid dumplings with sea grass. The next course highlighted steamed vegetables cooked with young grass and egg custard Chawanmushi-style. Then came takikomi rice and pickles to accompany Kyoto miso in a clay pot. All this was topped off with seasonal sweets of grape Jell-O, chocolate cake and melon.
After dinner, barely walking, Pete and Anne dared to try the onsen (each to his/her own bath). Anne alone at first looked for the shower, but not finding it, entered the onsen, pure hot spring waters. It was very hot. She soon discovered the “shower” was a barrel next to the onsen with a scoop to pour water over the body. Relaxed, refreshed and replenshed, we all turned in.