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A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Monday 21 December 2015

Narai Juku and Mihara No Yu Onsen

Third and last post on my trip to Gifu Prefecture. On the Sunday, Caro's host father had kindly rented kimono for us to wear to Narai Juku, another post town on the Nakasendo.
As seen above, mine was orangey-peach and Caro's was purple. 

I'm so bad at getting my photo taken, and look intensely awkward in all of them, so I won't post many here. However, it was really fun and if you have the chance to try on a kimono, go for it! This was actually the second time for me, and these were specially made to be easy to put on: usually kimono take a while to put on but these had handy velcro and elastic to help us out.

It was really funny though, because a lot of other tourists wanted to take our picture. My friend Caro loved it, because she is very photogenic. I had a lot of fun too though.
Anyway, Narai Juku was gorgeous! 
The weather was misty again which made everything look really atmospheric. The architecture was so lovely in Narai Juku as well, the perfect backdrop to our little Kimono photoshoot. There were some really nice souvenir shops in the town. I bought some wooden chopsticks as a souvenir for my family.
Narai juku

The Lantern says "Narai Juku"

There was a pretty large statue of a Tanuki:

Shrine at one end of the town.
When we were leaving Narai Juku, some of the people working at the entrance stopped us and chatted to us a little bit, then gave me and Caro a really pretty pair of chopsticks each! Japanese people are so kind, seriously. They really take "Omotenashi" seriously.
After leaving Narai Juku, we changed back into normal clothes and had a soba making workshop. The Soba was pretty tasty, too (if I do say so myself).
Then we went to Mihara No Yu onsen. This was my first time in an onsen, so I was more than a little nervous. I might do a whole post just about Onsen another time, but for now, let's just say it was scary. As an uptight British person, I was terrified. I nearly decided to just wait outside for everyone. In the end, I summoned my courage and went in. Honestly, I did feel like everyone was staring at me slightly, (it could be the fact that I was a foreigner, or I could have been imagining it... The jury's still out on this one) but once I got in the water, it was fine. It feels really relaxing. There was also an outside pool with the most gorgeous view! Outside onsen in the cold weather feels awesome.

A few quick pointers on Onsen:

  • Remember to bring 100 yen coins for the lockers
  • Get changed and get in as quickly as possible if you're nervous
  • Bring make up remover
  • Bring your own towel, if you don't like me, you can buy one for around 500yen. It might make a nice souvenir though. 
  • Wash yourself before you get in in the shower area
  • Bring shampoo and conditioner if you're fussy about which brand you use. Both of the Onsen I've been to provided shampoo, body wash and hair dryers, but one didn't provide conditioner, which absolutely killed my bleached hair. 
  • Don't stay in too long if you're not used to Onsen, saunas or high temperatures. I felt a little faint on getting out.
  • Enjoy yourself~

After that, we drove home.
What I learned from that weekend is say yes to everything, and try and get off the typical tourist routes (although, most of them are famous for a reason: they are awesome) quieter, smaller places are amazing too if you can get to them.

Thanks for reading!
-Amy xoxo

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