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A shrine on the field behind the hotel
The wind was so strong I nearly couldn't get back into the hotel after hatsumoude.

Shrine at the Hotel Grand Mer Sankaiso

Context: Road trip up to Aomori to stay in a cabin and watch the snow fall.

After marinating in the cabin for a few days we decided to go to an onsen and marinate in some nice hot water for a change. The incredibly patient K (the only person with a license out of our group of six, despite the fact that we were going on a road trip) drove us over to a nearby onsen hotel with a view overlooking the ocean.

It was incredibly windy, to the point where the people at the hotel informed us that we wouldn't be able to use the outdoor baths. Fortunately that turned out to be more of a suggestion than a prohibition, which everyone ignored.

One excellent thing about expensive hotels in Japan is that they generally also sell access to their onsen for less than ¥1000. I wonder if it's a loss leader, and they expect to make it up in people sticking around for their restaurant or gift shops. Or even for an onsen customer to come back sometime for a hotel stay.

The wind really was howling outside. But there was a peculiar joy to staring out into the dark, hearing the roar of the ocean and the howl of the wind, shifting in and out of the hot water to adjust from one extreme temperature to the next.

Anyway, after the bath, I had a few moments to explore the hotel lobby and I noticed this small shrine outside. Since it was the new year, it seemed like a good opportunity for hatsumoude.

Under the ocean's roar, I whispered my wishes for 2020. What I wished for, I couldn't tell you now - my memory has been washed away by the sound of those waves.

Published May 29, 2020

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