In Japanese, frogs make the ‘kero kero’ sound (ribbit ribbit essentially). So in a cute word play, one of Gero’s symbolic animal is the frog–‘gero gero!’ Our second day in Gero was mostly spent exploring the town’s various stores for local snacks–a very worthy endeavor if you’re a foodie because there are endless things to try! We woke up to clouds rolling in from the mountains and some light rain, but fear not since our ryokan had already prepared for us large umbrellas for our day of exploration.
As we made our way towards town, I think the prettiest thing about Gero is how it’s nestled between mountains and still retains much of its traditional small shops look. Of course, we had in mind a couple of things we wanted to eat and buy so without further ado, I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story! (Tip #4 Do not miss Hida Beef buns, ‘gyu-man,’ because meat buns don’t get better than this!)
Even after multiple snacks and unlimited samples at Gero’s many omiyage gift shops, Alex and I were still ready to have lunch after walking around all morning. Tip #5 Check out Gero’s many omiyage stores, and don’t forget to choose one of the many cute frog-decorated ones! Buying omiyage, Japanese for gifts and sweets, is a tradition the Japanese uphold when they visit a new city–afterwards, you share with your coworkers and family the local snacks from wherever you visited. I love it, it’s a delicious custom and perfect excuse to try a bunch of snacks!
Lunch was at a restaurant specialising in Unagi (freshwater eel) and Gyudon, essentially thick slices of sweetly marinated Hida Beef on a bed of rice. Both were absolutely delicious and worth every bite even though we were full half way through the meal! The unagi was tender but crispy on the bottom. With the sweet soy glaze over it, it went amazingly with the rice. I also got a serving of sashimi on the side which was also very good. Alex ordered Gifu Prefecture’s famous Hida Beef on a bed of rice–I think it’s safe to say we both agreed Hida Beef is some of the highest quality beef we’ve ever had.
After lunch, we headed back to Yunoshimakan for some foot onsen and afternoon lounging since it was pouring outside by then. The pitter patter of rain, your feet soaked in hot spring waters, and a gorgeous view? I think Yunoshimakan was telling me to become a poet and write a haiku or something–it was such a lovely experience! But of course, we couldn’t finish our trip without one last dinner. In short, dinner was sukiyaki with Hida Beef, dipped in a raw egg, vegetables soaked in the sweet soy soup base, and some rice with seafood on the side. It truly was an elaborate dinner set that rendered us unmovable afterwards! Ryokans are always known for its traditional dinner sets and when it’s served in your room, there is an art form in the way all the dishes are presented. Beautiful!
Gero was a phenomenal hot springs experience we thoroughly enjoyed. Yunoshimakan has its own rooftop hot spring, which overlooks Gero City, so it was all the more lovely! To be honest, we had never heard of Gero, Japan until we stumbled upon it while researching for a place to go that neither of us have been to. If you’ve traversed across the major Japanese cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, maybe it’s time for some quaint town explorations with amazing mountain views!
And in the spirit of Japanese frog sounds, ‘gero, gero’!