|Early Evening in Murakami|
The photograph above shows the Japanese hot spring in which I have soaked while orange sun rays diffused across the sky and the orb of the sun disappeared slowly into the ink-blue sea. In winter, I have been toasty warm while round hard hail pellets bounced off the surrounding rocks or soft while flakes have fallen like drifting leaves onto my skin. In summer, I have watched fishermen and swimmers enjoying the sea. The outdoor bath is broken into two wide segments, each about ten meters long and each parallel to the beach. Artfully placed shrubs and small pine trees provide privacy while allowing bathers a panoramic view. Occupants of the outdoor sauna can also enjoy sea views through windows facing the ocean.
The hot spring belongs to a fancy hotel that allows day visitors to use the baths for 1,000 yen (close to U.S. $10.00). There is no time limit, so you could spend hours moving among the indoor bath, outdoor baths, saunas, showers, massage chairs and other comfortable chairs in the rest area. The sunsets as view from this area of Niigata are renowned.
The entrance to the hotel introduces visitors to an important aspect of Murakami culture -- salmon. Salmon has been caught in local rivers for thousands of years, and Murakamians have developed their own recipes for preparing and cooking salmon that are unique. In Murakami, many shops and even homes display salted salmon that are hung outside from eaves to dry in the wind. The popular mascot of Murakami, is a character, called Sakerin, who features a salmon on top of the head. Manhole covers in the Murakami streets feature salmon, too. Salmon products, of course, can be purchased all around town.
|Murakami Salmon Hanging Out|
|Maybe Noah's Ark Landed in Murakami, Japan|
|Sit and Chat with a Penguin Sailor|
|Murakami's Character "Sakerin"|
|Murakami City Manhole Cover Depicting Salmon|