Monday, November 7, 2011

Mutsumian Dog Spa

Without knowing Granma would be sick we had booked this fantastically expensive Izu hot spring dog hotel for a night, no refund for sudden cancellations. Fortunately Granma is on the mend, and I went over to the hospital for two hours the morning before we left to check up on her and make sure it was ok to be away, and then Tosh went over the evening we got home, so all is well in that department....

It was an unexpectedly long drive down the winding sea coast along route 135 to Mutsumian .
When we finally arrived we were both cramped and in need of a rest, and it was pleasant to have the kimonoclad lady of the house come out to the parking lot to meet us and offer to help carry our bags. We headed for the dog run, and I let Claire off the leash, pretty exhausted and grateful that she could run off her evening walk energy at her own pace. To my horror she circled it twice, then niftily hopped through a knee high gap in the fence at a point where the boards were loosely spaced and disappeared into the surrounding woods. I was panicked and me and Tosh were calling and calling as she wootled around exploring, but with all the pent up energy from the drive she took her time coming back (for one awful moment I thought she wouldn't and buckled up all teary and miserable).

Quite oblivious to my feelings, Claire looks completely happy with her escapade, what a grin! But the woods were full of autumn burrs, two different types, long thin ones and slightly oval fatter ones, and they were clinging all over. Instead of being able to relax and take a bath after the three hour drive, I had to spend an hour til the evening supper combing them out. I give their dog run a zero rating. They boast of its being sizeable enough to satisfy large dogs, but haven't secured the fence: all it would take would be one more thin round of boards banged in between the thick planks.

Supper was, however, absolutely delicious, and I began to mellow the time the shabu shabu came I was full, with  Japanese hors d'oeuvres, melt in your mouth sashimi, broiled fish, the works, a full course Japanese dinner with exquisite dishes and flavors. The owners of the place breed collies, and they had these lovely tapestries of their dogs hanging round the room which I really enjoyed, being a fabrics and crafts fan.
Back in our room I finally enjoyed lounging in the hinoki cypress bath: each room has a private hot spring tub to soak in, but no dogs in the tub, so no pics of Claire.

Claire was ensconced in the doggie bed in the tokonoma alcove which she really took to, preferring to spend the night there rather than in her own little bed which we had carried with us and set out near the beds. The tokonoma is really a special place in a Japanese room. According to wikipedia: The items usually displayed in a tokonoma are calligraphic and/or pictorial scrolls and an arrangement of flowers. Bonsai and okimono are also sometimes displayed there, although traditionally, bonsai were considered to be too dirty for such a highly respected place. The tokonoma and its contents are essential elements of traditional Japanese interior decoration.
When seating guests in a Japanese-style room, the correct etiquette is to seat the most important guest with his or her back facing the tokonoma. This is because of modesty; the host should not be seen to show off the contents of the tokonoma to the guest, and thus it is necessary not to point the guest towards the tokonoma.
Stepping within it is strictly forbidden, except to change the display when a strict etiquette must be followed.
Who needs ikebana flower arrangements when you have a dog in the place of honor?

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