Several years ago, I pulled the covers over my shoulders in a rented yet hip apartment in a gorgeous and architecturally relevant district in Rome. A fine wrap to the end of a satisfying day, a disguised American tourist, eating, drinking, and photo logging a clutch of sisters’ journey through Rome. Sure I would elude jet lag through the precise execution of Spouse’s strategies of staying awake all day and in the sun, I settled in bed.
Until the yelling in the kitchen drifted up through the open courtyard. Echoing off the stone walls, two people arguing sounded like a platoon of mess hall cooks. Followed by the incessant clanging of dishes and pots being washed and thrown haphazardly in to their places on metal shelves. For the next two hours. For the following 3 nights.
Fear not virtual tour goers- our tour will not involve nightmares such as this to ruin your valuable and hard-earned vacation money and time. Loud banging is not allowed at our last must see stop – the traditional Japanese ryokan.
Once our lodging was booked for Kyoto, I questioned Andretti-san, cultural guide, language sensei, and reckless driver further regarding specifics of the ryokan.
Ouiser: “Andretti-san, please explain the ryokan.”
Andretti-san: “The ryokan is a traditional Japanese boarding house. Very Japanese.”
Ouiser: “Very Japanese? What the Hell does that mean?”
A: “It has Main room for dining and sleeping, futons or low beds, sliding wooden doors between rooms, an onsen or deep tub, and meals are served family style in the main room.”
A: “Tatami mats cover the floors- so leave shoes by the door.
Speaking of, Ouiser-san, sometimes you forget to remove your shoes- very insulting! Like spitting on the floor.”
O: “That time was an accident! Spouse pushed me on to the mat.”
A: ” The traditional dinner- kaiseki- is served, with sashimi, a cooked fish or shrimp, a couple of vegetable dishes, Japanese pickles, rice, and soup. For you, I have made a special request of live baby octopus. Watch the suction cups on the way down. Hahahaha.”
O: ” Sounds delicious -you’ve been so helpful I ordered you a special dish of puffer fish. I certainly hope the chef has the expertise to prepare it correctly lest you die from the poison.”
A: “Ahhh- Ouiser-san- my favorite. I’m sure I’ll live through dinner. It’s not as dangerous as people think. Only the liver is bad.
So after dinner, the nakai clears the dinner, sets up the futons which are stored in closets, and then Japanese people usually bathe….”
… Everyone puts on a yukata and walks around town.”
O: “We walk around town in a robe? With- like- only skivies on underneath?”
A: ” Yes. It’s hot outside- this keeps you cool. Tie the bow in the back or people will think you’re a prostitute.’
O: “I think most people already think that.”
A: ” Fold the yukata left side over right. You only fold the right over left for funerals.”
O: “I’m not going to remember that. I’m sure I’ll end up in a back alley retying. What’s for breakfast?”
A: “Traditional Japanese breakfast, fish, baked egg custard, green tea, miso soup, Japanese pickles, and tofu.”
O: “I know that tofu and seaweed makes you live longer, but I don’t want to eat it. I need my bacon and eggs.”
A: “You can ask the owner ahead of time for something else.”
Ryokans are primarily located around mountains, rivers, and natural onsens or hot springs. Meals are included in the price and owners tend to be flexible if contacted ahead of time regarding food choices and meal times.
So ends our 5 Part Tour That Never Was. Keep your eyes open- you never know when the tour flag will again wave its ugly head for another page turning installment of….
THE VIRTUAL TOUR!
God forbid someone think I’m a prostitute–not to mention in mourning! Sounds like a place where I could get into a lot of yakata-related trouble.
It’s a lot of potential “Issue causing” things to remember!! I agree Kathy!
I love food posts! I’m enjoying all of this traditional Japanesedom. 🙂
I love the traditional Japanese food- which is not anything like the “Japanese” food I ate in the US!
I know, I know, I’ve heard the same thing about every other cultural food I’ve ever eaten in the U.S. Bah! That’s it, I’m dropping everything to eat my way around the world.
That is a goal worth pursuing!
Live baby octopus? Puffer fish? Did you? Have you?
Yukatas remind me of he granny gowns my parents bought us for Christmas years ago!
The pics are beautiful!
The Clampitts have tried just about everything. Spouse and I were indoctrinated on our “look see”. I’ll never forget the live shrimp crawling across my plate….But- foods from other countries would stop me dead in my tracks- sheep’s head for instance?
Live shrimp?? k you are officially my hero..you and Indiana Jones!
Does that mean I have to start robbing temples and eating monkey brains?
I prefer my baby octupus cooked…may have to plan ahead for that one!
Thanks for the tour, amblerangel…
Even cooked is pretty gutsy Wendy- Bravo!
Sorry your family didn’t get to go on this tour, but I’m glad I did. I’ll be sure to take bacon and my own bathrobe if I ever visit Japan. 🙂 Thanks for your post.
You’ll not see me cruisin’ the streets in the yukata. Glad you came along Piper.
It really sounds very Japanese, I think the most Japanese part of the tour. Emily, and what do you have to do with Ouiser?
Definitely very Japanese. ouiser is a character from a movie “Steel Magnolias” about a group of southern women. One of the characters is named Ouiser- she has a unique personality that some have described as similar to mine…
I’m Very Backwoods I just decided 🙂
It’s all in what you get used to- I never could’ve imagined myself doing these things a year ago!
I love the very minimalistic interior designs of the Japanese. It looks very calming. Although I’m way too messy for them to work in my own house!
I love the way it looks too but when I try it accomplish the hotel look….. as in bad hotel look…