Monday, Sept. 18 
Kurokawa Onsen evening 

  The woman at the hostel offered to drive us to Kurokawa Onsen, since we didn't want to have to bike back in the dark. We bathed at Shinmeikan, an onsen that included a little cave with dimly lighted passages -- very atmospheric. We didn't figure out until after we had bathed in separate areas -- me in the cave and Rick under a thatched roof outdoors -- that the outdoor part was co-ed and that another couple was waiting for Rick to leave so they could have privacy there. 

  We went to a little restaurant in the village and sat at the bar. No pictures, no English on the menu. I tried to sketch a fish, a scallop shell, a shrimp, and a soup bowl. The waitress's limited English proved more helpful than my drawing. She said, "Noodles?" and then "champon," which was the noodle soup we had enjoyed in Nagasaki, so we ordered that. There was fresh fish on ice right in front of us but we weren't sure how it would be prepared or how much it would cost. Two older men at the bar got a whole fish, cooked, and offered us a taste. We liked it and ordered one of our own. It was like a mackerel, served with grated daikon (a mild radish) and soy sauce. The bill came to only about $17.50. 
  We asked the waitress which onsen she liked and she circled Okunoyu on the Kurokawa map. We walked there, but it was closed for the evening. A friendly young woman at the desk spoke some English and called a taxi for us and chatted with us while we waited. 
Okunoyu matchbook cover