The Sun Sets on my Onsen Bath
Senami Onsen in Niigata
夕映之宿 瀨波溫泉 汐美莊
The Senami hot spring, located just outside Murakami in the northeast of Niigata Prefecture, is renowned for the sunsets over the Japan Sea that can be seen from the serenity of the bath. The area is a popular destination year round but in the winter when the Salmon, Sweet Shrimp, Crab and Yellowtail are at their best; it is not only Spa Lady Windy that travels to Senami Onsen to have a taste of this unique delight! As the temperature drops the culinary delights tempt me from afar, the sunsets seem to guide my journey and the warm waters of the Onsen welcome me with open arms.
Located on the edge of the Japan Sea and with a spectacular view of Senami Beach is the “Shiomiso” or “Sun Set Inn”, recommended as one of the top 100 resorts in Japan by the book “Professional Hotel Selection Reserved Bible, Millennium Edition”. This superbly situated hot spring resort hotel is renowned not only for the beautiful traditional Japanese style it maintains but also for its sunset gallery.
Spa Lady Windy was trained to be a nakai-san(waitress) at Shiomiso in 1999. I learned that Japanese hospitality did not easily earn its reputation of excellence, that it requires the diligence of young apprentices to successfully learn how to treat guests with the correct deference. At Shiomiso, we had daily briefing sessions where each employee was given their task for the day. Mine was to learn the skills to make me as qualified as the others. I learned that as you greet a guest, your bow must be 30 degrees, when you request a guest to wait a moment, it must be 15 degrees and when you are thanking or apologizing it must be 45 degrees. I found this difficult to achieve in the practice room and even harder when faced with a guest’s request!
Just two weeks ago, Spa Lady went back to “Shiomiso” to stay for three days as a guest, President Asano, Okami Kyoko, and Manager Osamu Fukuda warmly welcomed me and made my stay a most relaxing and pleasant one there.
So many staff still remembered Windy made me feel like at home and then it recalled to me that how lucky I was as I learned the essence of hospitality, the skills and nuances against a stunning backdrop. As I sat with my beloved Onsen the sun’s golden glow caressing my skin and the cool sea breeze brushing my face, I thought I heard a soft voice from across the ocean that seemed to echo what I was thinking – “This is Heaven on earth”.