Today was the most elaborate day of train travel of our entire journey – we had to take four trains, one Shinkansen and three locals, to travel from Hiraizumi to Tendo City. Even though the distance is only 165 km in a southwesterly direction, the remote and mountainous terrain, and the many stops the local trains made, totaled up to a four hour trip. The entire production, including waiting time between trains, went very smoothly, though, just as our other days of train travel have gone here.
The last leg of our trip had us passing right by the Yamadera train station, on our way to Tendo City, where we are staying. The huge rock face of Yamadera Mountain Temple Complex, called Tenga Iwa, was in full sight from our seats on the train. I felt a surge of awe and excitement at seeing this hint of our walk tomorrow up the Mountain Temple to the summit, even higher than Tenga Iwa, looming over the entire village of Yamadera.
After we arrived in Tendo City, we got oriented and took a taxi to the Azumaso Ryokan, which is located at the opposite end of the main street running through Tendo’s CBD from the JR Station. It’s not a long walk, perhaps a half hour or less, but with a day’s hike coming tomorrow, we decided to take a taxi instead.
Azumaso is in a fairly new building, located in a district full of hotels, other ryokans, and wedding venues, but once we walked indoors, the atmosphere and service felt just like being in a centuries-old guesthouse – there are two beautiful onsens, one indoors and one outdoors, yukatas are worn by all the guests, and both breakfasts and dinners are served in our room, with an attendant who brings all the artfully presented dishes, and arranges them just so on our table. Even more to our liking (especially Tali’s, though I’m a big fan, too), fresh matcha (whisked Japanese green tea) is served every afternoon, whenever we return to the ryokan!
After we settled in our room and enjoyed our matcha, we had just enough time to go to a coin operated laundry (btw, the washers in these laundries come with their own detergent dispensers, so you never have to go and buy laundry soap first!) and get all of our wash done, and to find an excellent neighborhood barber for me. With clean clothes in hand, and my newly shaved face and head), we had just enough time to hit the onsens at Azumaso before enjoying an excellent, and beautiful-to-look-at dinner.