Travel Ladybugs: I Could Get Used to the Onsens
by Tiffany Ho
This article is part of a new Her Culture column series called "Travel Ladybugs," which gives insider tips about locations around the world, including little-known restaurants, historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and more.
Yesterday, we left Tokyo and headed towards the Tokyo station to ride the shinkansen, or the Japanese bullet train, to Osaka. It was built in 1964 and runs at 140 mph. The ride we took was the speediest way from Tokyo to Osaka with minimal stops at 2.5 hours for a ticket price of $140 USD. Riding the shinkansen reminded me of a lot of different things from America. The train itself was like a cleaner version of Amtrak, with lots of legroom and aisle space. There were smoking rooms (oh, by the way, most public places don’t allow you to smoke outdoors freely. You have to go to designated areas/smoke rooms to do your stinky business) on certain car trains. The bathrooms between each car were like restrooms on an airplane (same loud, airy flushing and cramped space). There were also coat hangers by window seats!
After the 2.5 hour shinkansen ride, we drove about an hour to our lunch spot in the hills for a tasty “natural farming” meal. This Fukuoka method of agriculture abides by a few principles:
After lunch, we drove a little ways through this village to visit the Miho Museum, located at the top of a hillside. The Miho Museum was designed by the infamous I.M. Pei and due to government regulations, there were a lot of rules to how the design of the buildings could be constructed (e.g. maximum height of the museum, required slanted roofs to mimic and blend in with the peaks of the surrounding mountains, etc.).
After a long day, we all resorted to the hotel of the night which was at Biwako Hanakaido Hotel, which is located right by the freshwater Biwa Lake. I was looking forward to this hotel because I knew we’d get access to a relaxing onsen again! These onsens are so dang addicting and all I want to do is be in one night after night after night. It’s like going to a spa! I took a quick dip before heading to our Kaiseki dinner (and also took one early the next morning before breakfast!).