We keep expecting to bump into Sean Connery in black ‘swimming trunks’ filming a 1960s James Bond movie as we navigate the endless corridors of the Hotel Nakanoshima. Or villain’s lair, as Leroy persists in calling it. He has dressed for the occasion in a beige safari suit, drawing just the right amount of shocked attention from the tittering staff.
Honshū’s remote and mountainous Kii Peninsula probably wouldn’t be at the top of everyone’s list for a first visit to the land of the rising sun, but that’s the way we like to roll. One of the most typhoon-prone areas of Japan, the area is covered in thick temperate rainforest and dotted with waterfalls. The Buddhist temples of Kōya-san and pilgrimage trail are the main drawcards.
The hotel itself has seen better days – several decades ago – and transportation to the island is by tortoise-shaped ferry, which only adds to the faded, kitschy glamour. Had I done my homework better, I would have stocked up beforehand on rice crackers and wasabi peas to tide me through their famed seafood buffet. When I tried to explain – in terrible Japanese – that I didn’t eat ‘meat from the sea’ the waiters looked at me askance, obviously convinced I was a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Leroy, on the other hand, showed due diligence and tried everything with gusto.
We’ve spent the afternoon soaking in a (thankfully otherwise deserted) geothermal onsen overlooking the sea. It is 5 degrees, after all.