29 May 2007

Izu Hanto

About an hour and a half south of Tokyo is the Izu Peninsula, which is a popular resort area in summer (for the beaches) or winter (for the hot springs, or Onsen).

Amy Hay had just finished up at Polygon and this was her last weekend in Japan, so myself, Atsushi Yamane, Aya Nakamura, and Amy headed down to the sunshine and the waves in Izu!

We stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant -- it was a very local find of feeling, but the food was tremendous! This was the Tai (snapper) sashimi, absolutely yummy! At first we figured there'd be something clinging to life inside the shell, but in fact it was just for decoration.

After that, it was time for swimming! It's very unusual to go swimming in Japan this time of year, but that's more for cultural reasons than comfort ones: the water was clearly warmer than NoCal! We were a little cold when we went in, but we warmed up and had a great time after we did! ...well maybe except for Aya, who was cold the whole time... but Amy had a blast in the water!

And from the ocean, we had to try Izu's other famous treat: the hot springs. We wound our way up to a hot springs in a residential neighborhood and went for a good long soak. Since for obvious reasons I have no pictures from inside the onsen, I give you Atsushi posing out front:

And last, but not least, dinner! We went down to Odawara and did some o-miyage shopping, then wandered around checking out various restaurants. We were standing, looking at the menu at this place:

when a Japanese man came out right in front of us. Everyone excused themselves and then he waited until we finished our discussion on whether Amy should try kujira or not, and then said in perfect, unaccented English, "You guys have gotta try this place, it's the best fish in Odawara! Be sure to sit at the counter!" And he was right -- it was a great restuarant, we had all sorts of Odawara's famous fresh seafood as well as an absolutely dynamite broiled lamb.

After that it got less exciting -- a long drive back to Tokyo that stretched Atsushi's English conversation skills, and a slog to drop everybody off at home. A great trip though!

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