Sunday, 25 September 2016

2016 Hokkaido Trip Day 5 (6 Sep):

Sounkyo 層雲峡
Akanko 阿寒湖
Accommodation: Akan Tsuruga Bessou Hinanoza


I had signed up for a sea of clouds 雲海 (unkai) tour so we woke up at 4:45 am to reach the rope way station at 5:50 am (we were very kiasu. The rope way is actually just a 2 min drive away). To our disappointment, we were told that viewing the unkai is not possible today due to the warm but wet weather. We decided not to take the chair lift too as it was wet. So we just walked around with our guide who tried to explain some interesting facts such as point out animal footprints and what to do if you see a bear. You should stay still. DO NOT RUN! You can never outrun a bear ok! She explained about the mass of the bear and just think F = ma and you'll be dead meat. Just stay still and retreat the way you came. In Shiretoko, we learnt that you can clap a few times when you are hiking so as to warn the bears of your approach.

We dropped by the Sounkyo Visitor Center to get my tourist ink stamp and since the rain got heavier and we couldn't go anywhere, we joined a Kirie 切り絵 (paper-cutting) class at the center.
Sounkyo Tourist Information Ink Stamp


Our paper cut-out
We arrived at Akanko 阿寒湖 (Lake Akan) on a wet day so we just tried to check in at 12:30 PM and to our delight, Akan Tsuruga Bessou Hinanoza was able to accommodate our early check-in! The view from the lounge is spectacular and it's the first time we were served creme brûlée at check-in!


Creme Brulee and Yuzu Drink
Lounge
While waiting for our room to be ready (they told us it will take 30 min), we tried the relaxing foot bath, complete with cold drinks and towels. 
Exit to foot bath

Complimentary Drinks
With view of Akanko


And yes, exactly 30 min later, we were escorted to our suite. Our jaws literally dropped when we entered the suite. I'll let the photos and video speak for themselves.









Since it was raining, we just spent the time relaxing in the very luxurious room and using the hot spring and checking out the ryokan-hotel. Usually you are not allowed to take photos but since no one was around, I took some photos of the entrance areas then a lady showed up so no photos of the hot springs. Chris said the guy's public bath has an outdoor bath with lake view. The ladies' public bath doesn't.

Public bath vanity
Public bath relaxation are
Public bath lockers and changing area 
Sauna which was only slightly warm
Amenities in public bath

Selection of yukata for ladies at the lounge
Shop
The kaiseki dinner included a scrumptious Kinki fish (called menme in Hokkaido) nabe cooked in shiro miso (white miso) soup. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetables and seafood in Hokkaido and I think it's possible to be vegetarian here.

Menu



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