Welcome to this week’s mainly pictorial post.

This week we had our first snow of the season and the temperature dropped by 10 degrees. Luckily, the snow was mostly melted by the end of the week and the weekend’s forecast was for sunshine.

However, late on Friday I got a phone call from Kazuko. It was our niece Sakurako’s birthday on Sunday and they were going away for the weekend with my brother-in-law Kii-chan’s family. Unfortunately, Kii-chan’s father became ill and couldn’t go. The room couldn’t be cancelled either, so Kazuko and I were called upon to step into the void.

Kazuko still had to work on Saturday morning and after she finished, we were met in town by Kii-chan, Masako and Sakurako and Kii-chan’s sister and her husband Mr Kawagoshi. We all piled into Mr Kawagoshi’s car and drove north to Asahidake, Hokkaido’s highest mountain, where we stayed the night at an onsen ski lodge.

As ever, the food was great:

While this was cooking on the table, we tucked in to a lemon palate-cleansing drink and seafood starter.

Inside the pot was a mushroomy soup.

These are balls of collagen. They dissolved them in the tofu stew. I've no idea why.

There were several other things, of course: some tasty steak; potatoes wrapped in a leaf and cooked in what appeared to be a salty meringue; raw squid in a salty grey sauce; fresh salmon roe; and some sort of milky soba tea jelly.

We had a nice, hot bath in the onsen and dressed in the hotel’s yukata.

Here is our room. Kazuko is relaxing in her yukata.

Breakfast was also impressive. It included a lacquer box which opened to reveal part of the breakfast.

Looks clever, doesn't it?

Here's the birthday girl.

After another bath, Kaz and I went for a walk around the lodge. We were near the end of the road up the mountain. The road takes you to a ropeway and I assume you can ski back down from the top of the ropeway. It took us ages to drive up the road the night before and it was uphill all the way. I really regretted being in a car and not on my bicycle but I intend to remedy that by returning on my touring bike in May.

Kazuko took a photo of me.

And I took a photo of her.

There was a river and forest in one direction.

And the top of the mountain in the other.

This is where we stayed.

Then we all got back into the car and drove back down the mountain. I don’t know how many kilometres the climb is but it’s not short. I can’t wait to have a go on it with a bicycle and with less ice and snow on the road. We went for a bit of a drive around the area, stopping here and there.

Here's Kaz with the birthday girl.

A splendid building.

A Ferris wheel with views of the Daisetsuzan National Park mountain range.

The mountains.

And once more for luck.

So in summary, no cycling but  a jolly good weekend nonetheless.

Kaz and I plan to do a cycle tour of Hokkaido in May next year and I have definitely earmarked this area to be visited by us. I’m looking forward to it already.

15 Comment on “Surprise weekend away

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