We Go To Japanese Heaven, Part Two

Sunset from the window of the serene and luxurious Sakoya Ryokan on the evening of our stay. Before dinner, we each took a hot springs bath in our private tubs.

In a small private dining room, Sachiho and I were presented with an amazing collection of meticulously prepared delicacies, that kept arriving long after our small stomachs were quite full. We were glad we’d taken a long walk up a steep hill that day, and we took our time, attempting to do justice to this feast. When we returned to our suite, two thick and comfortable futons with floral quilts on top had replaced the dining table in the middle of our tatami-floored main room. Sachiho went out to visit Yatchan and his family again, and I relaxed on my futon, astonished to discover an Ethernet outlet in one wall of the tatami room, allowing me to check my email before preparing myself for sleep.

Dawn from the window of our suite at Sakoya. We would be blessed with more hot springs baths, but no time afterwards to relax; Sachiho was starring in a show benefitting a Shinto temple that day in Nara, and we had to pack up and catch the train after breakfast.

Our breakfast would be served down on the dining porch overlooking the forest, to the sounds of wild birds, in the chilly mountain morning air.

Yet another selection of flawlessly prepared treats arrived on our trays, thankfully only a fraction of what we’d been served the night before.

We savored our hot tea and miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, fish, sea vegetables and eggs, and the sights, sounds and fragrances of the forest.

One of the ryokan staff drove us down to the train station, where I purchased some kudzu candy as a housegift for Koki and Ayako, to whose home I’d be returning in a few days. There we met some members of the forestry division working in Yoshino, including a man in white traditional-style clothing. He told me his name, Mori, which means “forest.”