Snow monkeys without the snow.

I’m writing this post on our last night in Tokyo. Next week I will post one more blog about our travel adventure, about interesting, random and weird things in Japan.
I am writing this blog from amazing hotel right outside Imperial Palace on 16th floor with breathtaking view of a whole Tokyo. People go up in the Tokyo tower for this view, we managed to get it as part of our room rate. Which to be fair wasn’t that much. When I was looking to book the last two nights in Tokyo all the prices on Booking.com were sky high so following Lonenly Planet suggestion I went onto Japanican.com and booked it through there, everything was in Japanese but it was worth it! So do try that website, I think booking.com is good especially if you can get an app, it keeps all your bookings there in one place but it is very expensive.

So going back few days ago…
We traveled from Kyoto to Yamanouchi, 4 hour journey up north. This area is famous for snow monkeys, you must of seen photographs of monkeys sat in hot spring with snow on their head..
I booked us another Ryokan- Senshinkan Matsuya, but this time for 2 nights so we can relax a bit longer. This Ryokan was based in the village in the middle of nowhere about an hour walk to the monkeys though. One of the owners came and picked us up from the station as soon as we arrived his wife made us some welcome tea. We both were happy to receive this kind gesture but as soon as we took a first sip it tasted very sea like, very salty, like drinking sea water. We asked Keiko (lady’s name that mentioned above) what was it she said its famous Japanese tea in that area that you give to your guests on arrival and it’s made with sea kelp. She said it’s always funny to see westerners faces once they try it.
After this unusual tea, which I only managed two sips of, we were shown to our room. Small but very cosy with futons already laid out on the floor in case we were tired after our journey. We were given our yukatas (not kimonos apparently, the difference between those two are, kimonos are more expensive and made out of silk and have two layers inner and outer layer where is yukatas made out of cotton and not so expensive to buy. But you have to wear the left side over the right one, if you wear it the wrong way around its how they dress the dead in Japan so may cause offence.
We were told that the ryokan itself has only one onsen but the village has 9 and we were allowed to use all of them. Walking around the streets in your yukata is very strange but makes you see the place as if you were taken 100s of years back.
Photos to follow.
This time all of the onsens were inside so it’s a bit of the difference which we didn’t realise when we’ve booked two ryokans. As the previous one was outdoors and we assumed that all of the onsens are the same. After using 2 of the onsens we headed out for our dinner in the ryokan. We booked both nights half board. The dinner was great loads of delicious dishes one after another. A bit of sake helped aswell.
We woke up for breakfast all refreshed. This time we weren’t giveen an option of western or Japanese breakfast, we had to have Japanese. Well neither me or my husband can get used to having miso soup and hundreds of others dishes like fish, another two soups and so on for breakfast. I can’t wait to go back home and have some porridge.
After breakfast we headed out to see the snow monkeys, we got the lift half way there and then 25 minute walk, which was very easy walk compared to the one we did before in Kyoto.
When we got there the sun was beaming and it was mega hot, there was no snow but a lot of monkeys. Not in the hot streams but just playing around, sleeping or grooming each other.
My husband always somehow manages to attract attention of animals around him, he is like doctor Doolittle. This time he was filming two of the monkeys playing and one of them jumped up on him and had a good clean of their backside on Leon’s chest. Lol

After waiting for quite a long time few of the monkeys leisurely got into the hot spring and stayed there for a while. About a hundred tourists were around one spot trying to capture this activity, because of course everyone wanted to walk away with the photo of monkey in the bath even without the snow on it’s head.
Sunburned but happy after being very close to hundreds of monkeys we decided to walk back to the village. On the way back we popped in into sake museum that was attached to police patrol point. One of the policemen came out and to see us, pointed at 14 bottles of sake on the table and said please help yourself to try them all, free of charge! After which he went back to his office and we never seen him again.
There was another couple there from Northen Ireland who already started their sampling of sake. They were as shocked as we were that there was free sake bottles on the table. We got chatting whilst trying this amazing sake that is made on the site. We spent around two hours in the museum, chatting and sampling, yum!

Then it was more onsens, dinner and another breakfast which was another struggle to eat.
We left the village relaxed and happy.
There are lot of photographs of the monkeys that need to be filtered. So patience please.

Last few days in Tokyo were walking around the Imperial palace, cherry blossom viewing and shopping.

Off to Abu Dhabi for few days to relax now.