March 13-15,2006: Old friend from New York
Mr. Tsukamoto, one of our close friends,travels around Japan. This time, he kindly stretched his legs to local Oita all the way.
I picked him up in the noon at Oita railroad station and headed to Wasada Town shopping center to take a simple lunch at Tsumikusa-no-ie Japanese restaurant.
The sturdy lunch box contained many lovely food. We enjoyed the special dish called "Hare.

Tsumikusa-no-ie Tokiwa Wasada Town 3F, phone 097-586-1111
We drove down to Nagayu spa directly from here. The gentle slopes of the hills welcomed us.
We stayed at an old Japanese inn called Daimaru.

Daimaru Inn, Naoiri Nagayu, Taketa city phone 0974-75-2002
The inn was decorated with wonderful flowers as usual. The landlady's good sense makes the guests feel ease.
We were first served with Tofu pudding. It was very good and warmed up our hearts.
We soon walked out wearing the Inn's short courts. It was already March, but it was very cold today.
We came up at Kani-yu, or "Crab bath", the symbol of Nagayu spa. The name was derived from the welling up foams which were like to a crab bubbling.
We visited Rojin pottery. I got a lovely pendant.
Daimaru Inn serves dishes using the pottery manufactured here.
We then visited a spa like this. The spa was designed by Terunobu Fujimori of Tokyo University.B
The spa was named as "Soda pop spa" by Jirou Osaragi in 1934. The content of carbonate sodium is the top class in Japan and was introduced world-wide.

There are two kinds of Soda pop spa, the difference is their temperatures. One is of 32 degrees centigrade and another is of 42. When I dipped myself in the outdoor bath tab of 32 C, my whole body skin was wrapped with silver-colored foam. It was cold indeed, but people say my body would become warmer after a while.

Road sign on the riverbank of Serikawa. Willow has started to bloom already.
Next, I tried in-house bath. This was the spa well point called "Tei."In late 1950s, the area was in spa trouble. Many people dug the well at random resulting in the lack of self spout with lower temperature below 40 C. One night, the third landlady appeared in the dream and suggested a good well point. The result was marvelous. Only 90 meters depth was enough to gush out 50 C spa.j
Finally, I enjoyed Green spa in the annex of Toukarou building. The bath was half-outdoor which was good for looking down the river.
The distinctive quality leather chairs tell the history of the annex of Toukarou main building. The foundation dates back to 1920.
The spa crawling made me very happy and hungry enough.
We were guided to the dining room. The calligraphy on the back was by Kazuo Dan.
Appetizers were beautifully dishes up on Rojin potteries.
The crispy taste of fried river fish and wild vegetable were very good. I enjoyed all of them.
So many fascinating foods were really wonderful.
I took bath again in the next morning.
The thinly snow covered landscape was unusual in early March.
We had a warmer days a couple of days ago but it turned back suddenly to winter again.
We enjoyed March snow through the breakfast table. This was a sort of spa atmosphere.
The breakfast was good as well.
After the breakfast, we visited a tea room Kawabataya across the street. Great writer Yasunari Kawabata also loved the spa, they say.
Here, we enjoyed an unusual sweet cake called "Spa cake." I purchased it as a souvenir.
Old classic English tea cup.
Classic furniture in the lounge.
She served very good tea for us.
"Spa drink cups" from Germany.
St. Valentinefs Day present from the tea room.
We returned home quickly before we were locked by the snow.
In the evening, old friends gathered at an Indonesian restaurant in central Oita.
Good dishes made us very happy.
Our friendship lasts more than 10 years.
We promised to have next meeting in New York or in Washington DC.
March 15: Beautiful sky came back today.
I hope Mr. Tsukamoto enjoyed Oita. See you again.