Yakusugiland is deep in the island center, and after a very short drive, we parked at the trailhead. Big national park.
First, we stopped at a spectacular bento shop, a real hole-in-the-wall, in a village. Taxi drivers and truck drivers were stopping, too, to buy bento. I have enough Japanese to request a bento of karaage and a bento of o-sake.
So imagine how in an ancient mori of cedar trees it felt to sit on rocks, surrounded by moss, and eat bento with hashi. That’s right: Magical.
We took the longest route, marked in purple on the maps, and it took, oh, about two and a half hours. One of the most beautiful hikes I have ever experienced. Never been in a cedar forest before. We crossed bridges five times: Small and narrow, two suspension.
Driving on the left: A challenge until I realized that if you watch the line of the right to position the car, you are alright.
Tonight back at Sankara it will be Japanese dinner with Italian touches and shochu of mugi and shochu of emo.
A few branches away, the first face appeared, and then others. Monkeys, gray and about the size of toddlers, squawked and clutched trees and leaves, deciduous.
The place, Sankara, is Thai in vibe, Japanese in service, and Western in decor. Meaning very relaxed, efficient and anticipatory, and looking as if it could be in southern Europe. It’s all lovely, a seamless melange of cultures.
The food so far has been a kind of gentle rendition of Italian cuisine as interpreted by Japanese sensibility and ingredients with French technique. Like spaghetti with bottarga and cabbage leaves. A salad of mackerel sous vide and fresh greens. Stewed pork from Kagoshima. Delicious shochu from barley.
After four days and nights working as Master of Ceremony for the Relais & Chateaux Congress in Tokyo, their first in Asia, where I was designated as their expert on matters Japanese, we returned for a couple of nights here in Kaga Onsen to work a little bit more with The Kayoutei, which is by far one of my favorite ryokan.
Less than a dozen rooms, as quiet as the minutes before I sleep, and easily some of the most delicious and refined food anywhere, and long soaks in beautiful baths, this is a place that gives new meaning to, “Everything is nothing,”
Tatami rooms, perfectly lighted hallways, and lots of evocation.
I am never any happier.