Rest­ful Re­treat

ZbBZ (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - TEXT & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY NG KING KANG / 吴庆康

流连忘返

There are some places that you are loath to leave once you ar­rive or can­not help but visit time and again. Yu­gawara, which is near Hakone in Ja­pan, is one such invit­ing des­ti­na­tion, es­pe­cially in win­ter.

The his­tor­i­cal sea­side town famed for its hot springs is the only on­sen re­sort men­tioned in the Manyoshu, the old­est ex­ist­ing an­thol­ogy of Ja­panese po­ems. For Yu­gawara has long been a favourite haunt of the coun­try’s men of let­ters. Many lit­er­ary fig­ures from the Meiji era have also in­cor­po­rated the scenic on­sen town into their works.

In fact, the Manyo Park here has been so pop­u­lar with lit­er­ary greats that it has a trail dubbed “Lit­er­a­ture Path”, much like Ky­oto’s Philoso­pher’s Path.

Among the many ryokans in Yu­gawara, Haku­un­sou stands out for its tran­quil lo­ca­tion. Nes­tled in the for­est and bordered by the Chi­tose River, it is a mem­ber of The Ryokan Col­lec­tion, a con­sor­tium of lux­ury tra­di­tional Ja­panese inns and bou­tique ho­tels.

Haku­un­sou re­opened in 2015 af­ter a re­vamp and is a haven for weary ur­ban­ites. It fea­tures 17 rooms and is big­ger than your typ­i­cal ryokan but still man­ages to of­fer much pri­vacy. It was only at meal-times, for in­stance, that I re­alised the inn was full.

Haku­un­sou is de­signed such that guests in ev­ery room can hear the bur­bling Chi­tose River. Rooms on the first floor that are clos­est to the river come with pri­vate open-air on­sen baths that use wa­ter sourced from the hot spring. The open-air hot spring bath is linked to an in­door bath, so you get the best of both worlds.

Guests can also en­joy a good soak at two other baths in the inn. The Suite Pri­vate Spa (or do-yu-yu) is a spa­cious jacuzzi bath that you can re­serve for free for 40 min­utes per group, while the Sanuki Bath is an open-air pub­lic bath.

Break­fast and din­ner are typ­i­cally part of the ryokan ex­pe­ri­ence. At Haku­un­sou, the menu changes ev­ery month. Fish and shell­fish are sourced by free-div­ing from the neigh­bour­ing town of Manazuru daily, while the rice that wraps up each meal is cooked with sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents at the ta­ble.

Break­fast is of an equally high stan­dard. Meals are cooked to order us­ing fresh lo­cal pro­duce. Dashi-maki (Ja­panese omelette with broth) and chawan­mushi (steamed egg cus­tard) are pop­u­lar items here that re­flect the skill of Ja­panese chefs.

Be­sides the ex­quis­ite meals and re­lax­ing baths, an­other high­light of my trip was tak­ing an af­ter­noon stroll by the Chi­tose River. I took a cat­nap while rest­ing on a rock and woke up feeling re­ju­ve­nated. It goes to show the won­ders that a peace­ful oa­sis like Haku­un­sou can do for the body and soul. 河原温泉曾出现在日本最古老最著名的诗歌集《万叶集》中,深受日本文人墨客钟爱,明治时代,有许多文人都留下以汤河原为场景的作品。这里的万叶公园有一条“文学小径”,据说很多日本大文豪都喜欢来这里散步,一如京都的哲学之道。

汤河原的日式旅馆众多,比较独特的是深入山林,傍着千岁川的白云庄,听着潺潺的流水声和树林间的虫鸣鸟叫,有种与世隔绝的平静。属于日本传统旅馆精选系列一员的白云庄在2015年整修后重新开张,隐于山中,是都市人前来寻找心灵平静的好地方。这里总共有17间客房,有三间附源泉挂流露天浴池的独栋客房,五间附源泉挂流露天浴池的客房,以及九间附室内浴池的一般客房。和一般日式旅馆相比,白云庄已属大型,但依然私密,入住期间根本不觉有其他客人。

白云庄客房都在河川旁,距离河川最近的一楼客房附设源泉挂流露天浴池,阳台栽种着与房间同名的树木,露天浴池与室内浴池相连,可同时享受室内泡汤和露天泡汤。

泡温泉和品尝正宗怀石料理是入住日式旅馆的重点。除了客房内的私人浴池,白云庄还有另外两个泡澡处,一是地下层的公共澡堂,分内外两部分,喜欢室外澡堂,可感受大自然的呼吸,迎着冬季寒风饱享泡汤乐趣。若要更多私人空间,除了客房内的浴池和公共大澡堂,白云庄大门处的庭院有个需要预订使用的澡堂Do-yu-yu,像个茶苑浴池,内有茶几茶水,窗外就是溪流。预订的私人使用时间每次40分钟,若入住没有私人浴池的客房,这是一定要尝试的泡澡体验。

就像一般日式旅馆,晚餐和早餐是住宿体验的重点。除了时令鲜鱼和当地产的蔬菜等食材,白云庄“千溪”早餐最让人留下深刻印象的是主厨坚持早餐要现做,绝不使用冷冻食材。其技艺超群的高汤蛋卷和茶碗蒸,尤其突显日本厨师对饮食料理的一丝不苟态度。

入住的短短一天,享用早晚餐和泡澡无疑是重点,然而最舒畅的是下午到旅馆旁的千岁川漫步,走在溪流旁,爬上大块石岩在清爽的山林空气中闭目养神半小时,睁开眼时居然感觉精力充沛,可见优雅环境对身心的正面作用。 Haku­un­sou 716-1 Miyakami, Yu­gawara-machi Ashi­garashimo-gun, Kana­gawa 259-0314, Ja­pan +81-465-62-2341

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