Friday, December 2, 2016

Yamada Onsen, Part II

One of my mother's fond memories of the place as a child was the shrine above the onsen. We climbed the steps after dropping off our luggage in the room.



Yamada onsen, exterior. The original onsen, or hot springs, was, from what I gathered, a village-owned affair, publicly used.

Small koi pond.

And then on to have a look at the onsen! The different bathing rooms change gender regularly - sometimes for men, sometimes for women, in order to allow both a fair sampling.

The river below.
A nice, wooden, individual bath.
 Public bath, with saru (monkey). The saru is something like the patron saint of the place, as he led the original samurai to the pools.
 Hallway in the hotel.
Family portrait.
The original structure was disassembled by the village of Yamada as a local treasure and transferred to a site closeby, further up the mountain. Before today, none of the family members had visited it for over 60 years, so this was quite a moment.
It was reassembled next to another hot spring hotel, which still appears to use the original building for banquets and other special occasions.

From the outside, not much had changed. The interior, however, had undergone some significant revision, including the width and placement of the main stairs to the second floor.
Family-owned for at least several decades, the onsen went through good times and bad, with family intrigue, politics, and complex relationships that make up part of Yamada village's history.
Wonderful to imagine, though, the intimacy and natural feeling of this structure in its prime. No one could answer the question of its age, but it is easy to imagine this place being over two hundred years old. Further research may shed light on this question...

Wooden nail system.

Back to the original site, where the new building stands.
Restaurant on the far bank.

Our dinner the night before leaving was a grand feast - endless fish and meat, multiple small dishes. In fact, it was more than I could handle, and I am still working it off a day-and-a-half later.

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