Just a 10 minutes drive from our place in Shimane is Tamazukuri Onsen, said to be the oldest onsen area in Japan. Although close to home, this time we stayed one night in a hotel so we could relax in the hot springs and have dinner with Atsuko’s sister. I really do enjoy onsen in Japan, I like the routine of washing on small wooden stools before the bath and I love the outside gardens the most. It is strange at first to be naked outside but it’s really nice to lie in naturally hot water watching the stars and while you sometimes have to share the large baths with others, it’s usually quite empty when we go. The waters contain healing minerals so regular visits to onsen really have a physical effect as well as emotional.
The following morning we climbed the steps to pay our respects at Tamazukuri Jinja. It’s a beautiful shrine but sadly the shimenawa rope has fallen victim to a relatively new tradition of people pushing coins between the straws to make their wishes. I personally don’t much like this and actually Izumo Taisha has prevented people doing this with netting. Before we left that morning, we sat at the river and ate a very modern and delicious version of mochi-ice-cream! Mochi is sticky rice cake (here) but these were balls of ice cream covered in sticky rice and topped with brown sugar crunch. I had mango and vanilla and the girls had orange, raspberry and green tea, it was amazing. A rare opportunity when I put my camera down was snapped up by Atsuko so there are even some rare pictures of me in this post!