posted on Sunday, September 04, 2005

Kusatsu


I completed the longest ride of this holiday. Despite the rain of last night and bad weather forecast I woke up to a sunny day and by seven o'clock I was riding up Konsei Pass at 1850m. The road was very quiet and on top there was a plain scattered with pretty mountain and lakes. I reached Nakanojo by twelve and again luck meant the local Matsuri festival was about to start. Quite and experience to see something so alien to me. The Shinto priest blessing each shrine that was then paraded on through the central street on the shoulder of colorfully clad men and women. Children played a part in it too some of them sitting inside the wooden structure beating drums. I was also invited for a chilly beer by a group of old men and chatted with some of the people in the street who were somehow curious to find out what was a foreigner wearing in lycra doing in their little town! As I began my last climb to the famous Onsen resort of Kusatsu I first met Typhoon 14 in a violent downpour that drenched the last 10 km of my long ride. Gloomy forecasts seem to predict he will be with me for the next few days. After checking into the hostel I met Yoshimi and another Japanese motorbiker with whom I was sharing my room. I had made Kusatsu my next stop in order to experience the famous Onsen that make this resorts famous all over Japan. After a quick stop I headed straight to town and looked for Otaki no yu an Onsen that had been recommended to me. A wonderful place with fancy changing rooms and bars but mostly indoor and outdoor pools of white sulphur hot water. The rain still falling hard made the all experience even better. The pools water is pretty hot at around 43 degrees and every 5 minutes or so one must get out and cool down to prevent any faintings! How long will it be before I will again stroll naked under the rain dipping in and out of hot pools with a towel on my head? I hope not too long! After dinner in a local restaurant I returned to the hostel for a chat with my new friends and a look at the route to follow tomorrow.