Yesterday we were able to get to Hikone Castle, and the weather was brilliant for us! Biking was wonderful as usual, and the hike up to the castle was peaceful and beautiful to say the least.
Robin, Bethany and I had an excellent meal at a small place near the train station. My Japanese is incredibly lacking, but everyone is so accommodating to try and communicate with us! For example, there were no pictures in the menu, so we took the waiter outside and pointed to what meal we wanted (there were plastic examples out front).
The best part of the day, however, was going to a traditional Japanese bath, or Sento. This particular place had a natural hot spring that they pumped up to the top floor of the hotel! The baths are separated, women and men, and you get undressed in a room (yes, you go around bare ass naked, which is really less awkward than you would think), then walk out to the spring, where there are many small stools you sit on. You then wash yourself (kind of like washing yourself off before going into a pool) then you go and soak in a large hot-tub kind of thing, sans jets. Holy crap, it was wonderful. We were sore and cold from the day, and it was perfect. And hot. Super super hot. For only 800 yen, I might have to take a trip back. I got lucky, though... we had the place to ourselves, and I was worried about my tattoo! They sometimes don't let in people with them, because you can be associated with the yakuza (Japanese mafia).
Today we're going to Kyoto to see a traditional procession, and then we're right off to Tokyo for the night and tomorrow. So I'll probably not be posting again until Sunday night/ Monday morning. And we have to leave in 15 minutes, so I leave you with some photographs:
Walking up the stairs to the top, long exposure time... the person on the right is Don, our teacher (sensei)!
Peace out, my peoples!