November 18, 2010

Hotel Morinokaze

Friendship Between Countries' Tourists Volume = Value
Morinokaze - Sashimi Appetizer Tempura Frying Upon Arrival

This was the first time I've traveled to Japan with a tour group and stayed at a large vacation resort instead of a business hotel or traditional ryokan. Tour groups try to put the nicest meal/hotel at the start, to make a good first impression, and the massive Morinokaze hot-spring hotel-complex in Iwate Prefecture was our first evening's resting place of our Tohoku trip. Usually I'd prefer something more intimate or historical, but as the Chinese-speaking hotel hostess went over all the amenities available one starts to see that size does have its benefits.

We've stayed at fancy ryokans where one night's sleep plus two meals cost more than the entire tour fee of this trip. But I've got to admit that the big hotel with tour-group's economy-of-scale advantages can sure dish out a lot of tasty food for a fair price. Our group had a large banquet room to ourselves, with gilted ceilings and tatami floors.

Paper Nabe 銀河高原ビール Beef Is Ready

Most of the meal was already laid out on the table in anticipation of our arrival, except for the tempura course. Our own fry chef didn't start battering and frying until we arrived, to make sure everyone could have fresh-fried tempura the way it was meant to be served. The paper-nabe contained local vegetables and rice cakes cooking in dashi broth. For the beef yaki-bowl, they light the fire at the start of the meal, so the slices of Japanese beef is hot & ready by the time you're ready to dig into the meat. I almost filled up on just the sashimi as wife and mom gave me a part of their portions for being too much. Sampling the local Ginga Kogen Beer, made with clean alpine snowmelt water in the style of a German Hefeweizen. Much tastier than the usual Asahi Extra Bland.

Get A Shot Of That Spread Here Comes The Dancing Girls

The large room and relative privacy allowed plenty of space and freedome to take pictures to our hearts' content. Our hostess even brought out her daughter and grand-daughters to perform the drum and dance routines from the local matsuri. Makes for cute entertainment for us and a good practice session for them.

Fishing Expedition Pound The Mochi The [Mochi] Fruit Of Our Labours

A brief rest after the large meal then it was time to seek out the hotel's other entertainment amenities. There was a kids' arcade featuring simple carnival games. No live goldfish scooping here, but marbles made for a good substitute for the kid to keep. For the elderly visitors, and us, there was a taiko drum performance, followed up by a little old-style enka songs. To entertain the kids there was a mochi-making demonstration, complete with kid-sized pestles for the rice-pounding. Afterwards, the audience each got a piece of the warm fresh-made mochi in a bowl of sweet azuki-bean soup. Later in the evening, the noodle bar and izakaya area come alive with the men on company-sponsored tours drinking and snacking, while us tourists and the old ladies retreat to the onsen hot-springs for a long soak.

French Toast Station

The rooms were so much larger than the tiny city-hotel rooms we usually stay in. And one can't help but sleep well after the good meal and the relaxing hot bath. Unfortunately that made us late for breakfast the next morning and we only made it once 'round the breakfast buffet with the tour bus waiting. Missed out on the fresh-made French toast with local milk and eggs.

Young & Old Still In Good Spirits

ホテル森の風 鶯宿
10-64-1, Oushuku, Shizukuishi-cho, Iwate-gun, Iwate

Posted by mikewang at November 18, 2010 07:00 PM