Monday, May 18, 2009

Zao Hot Springs and Sukiyaki

From 5/15 to 5/16, my boyfriend and I've been to Zao in Yamagata prefecture to eat sukiyaki and take an onsen (hot spring bath). Zao is a popular ski area in winter and good hiking base in summer. Since it was off season, the tour was about $80 per person, including round trip flight to Yamagata, one night stay at a hotel, and 2 meals (all-you-can-eat sukiyaki dinner and breakfast). Beyond expectation, we had a really good time ;)

Zao Hot Springs are founded approximately 1900 years ago. The resort area is lined with many hot spring bathhouses. The hot springs are known for their high acidity, so you can't make any soap bubbles! In addition, you don't wanna soak any towel in water because it will be worn to rags! However, the hot springs are very famous for healing both skin conditions and gastrointestinal disorders. Surprisingly, it was true and my scrapes and pimples healed! Also soaking in the hot springs refreshes you physically and mentally ;)

Just a short distance away from the resort area, up on a steep hill, there is a dairottenburo (large outdoor bath)! There, you can enjoy the open air bathing surrounded by nature. Luckily, the hotel sent us there, so we didn't have to walk up the hill!

Early in the evening, we had sukiyaki for dinner. The water in Yamagata is very clean so the food there was delicious. I loved the sansai (wild vegetable) tempura! After dinner, we took a hot spring bath at the hotel. Since the hotel was chartered (there was no other lodger on this day), I sneaked into men's section and enjoyed a relaxing soak in the rottenburo (outdoor bath) with my boyfriend ;)

The next morning, we again took a hot spring before breakfast. I really loved the hot spring there, so I bought some flower of sulfur for my souvenir ;) Before we leave, we enjoyed walking the resort area. We went up a mountain by aerial tramwayhave, tried local food: "Igamochi" (kind of mochi) and "Tamakonjac" (simmered konjac). For the last time, we took a footbath ;)

It was a quick trip, but we really had a relaxing time!

I wish I could go there again.

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