After a long day of exploring Parque España in Shima, we had made our way via the Kintetsu to Toba for the night. Umi no Cho sent their shuttle bus down to the station and in a short six minutes we were at the hotel which sits on a peninsula providing views of a bay and the open ocean to almost every room.
My father-in-law had made the reservation as a present. We were expecting our third child and the locals of the Ise region believe that eating awabi (abalone) while pregnant will provide the baby with beautiful eyes so no better place than the Ise, Toba, Shima area.
The hotel lobby was spacious with enormous picture windows looking out on the sea. However since we had arrived after dark and it was raining, we couldn't see much. My kids ran around as we checked-in.
Our 4th floor corner room consisted of two twin beds, a tatami room, couch, and chairs around coffee table, toilet, shower and a view looking out at the ocean and a bay back toward downtown Toba. Our kids immediately decided the best thing to do was to jump between the beds.
“Who wants to take an onsen?”, I asked as dinner would not be ready for at least 45 minutes.
The kids discontinued their stunts and readied to go down to the onsens.
There are onsens for men and women both consisting of indoor and outdoor pools. As the rain had let up, my kids decided to try swimming in the outdoor pool, which is something you actually shouldn’t do. The kids enjoyed their time and I was able to let the day run off.
Back in the room the feast was about to start. The table in the tatami area was dressed with meals for the kids and adults.
The children's meal included a juicy hamburger steak in a high grade glaze, salad, French fries, curry and rice, and a few other popular kids dishes. But sadly, they were not hungry so my wife and I …um…helped them out. My wife and I had a multi-dish course featuring abalone grilled live in butter, sashimi, steak, salads, a host of small side dishes and of course Ise Ebi (Shrimp). Once we thought we were done, another course would show up. All this was topped off with a special fruit tray my father-in-law had arranged which the kids seemed interested to eat.
Having filled ourselves to dangerous levels and the meals cleared, the tatami room was cleared and futons prepared. The kids got the beds (we lost at rock scissors paper) and my wife and I settled in on the futons. As we fell asleep the storm outside began to boil into a full on sound and light show. Combined with rich food in my belly my dreams were lending toward psychedelic.
The next morning I took the kids back down to the hot spring and then prepared for breakfast. The breakfast was a standard Japanese one with fish, miso soup, vegetables and rice; very healthy and balanced.
The Umi no cho has many features that we didn't get to explore. They have hiking trails, a private beach, game room and an outdoor foot onsen. It is not just a hotel but a resort.
We repacked our bags and ventured down to pay the bill and purchase some omiyage (gifts) for friends and families. In the Ise region, popular gifts include Ise Shrimp senbei and udon. We bought both.
The rain had let up a little but it was still drizzly when the shuttle bus showed up. As is fashion in Japan, the staff lined up outside to wave goodbye and say thank you.
Our stay at Umi No Cho was wonderful and memorable that my eldest daughter still says, "Daddy, I want to go back to that onsen hotel on the ocean". I say, "me too."