Onsen-hop #24 Okunoyu

My intention this bright and sunny morning was  to pop up to Kurokawa Onsen and pay a visit to Okunoyu (奥の湯 number 6 on the English map),but I took a wrong turning and spent most of my time photographing the autumn leaves and scenery alongside the ` Warabi Nobori ` walking course instead… Later I realised that the Chinese character 奥 translates as `at the far end` or `at the back of` , so to help anyone else trying to find it,it`s located up a narrow ,winding road (one car width) at the back of Nishimura Ryokan,about 15 minutes walk from the Visitor Center.

But then even when I did eventually find my way to Okunoyu I still spent more time taking photographs in and around the grounds than  actually relaxing in the bath….

 

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Within the grounds of Okunoyu

 

Looking up from the women`s bath,this was the view….

 

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A blaze of colour above the women`s bath.

 

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Women`s outdoor bath

 

Okunoyu offers mixed bathing in a cave bath as well as in large and small riverside baths ,the latter of which is lit up at night. Women may have exclusive use of these three baths between 20:00 and 22:00 or the women-only bath at any time.  Do check the sign or ask at reception in case this information should change…..and be careful!

 

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Be careful!

 

Excellent facilities all round,warm changing rooms (with toilet),lockers, soap and shampoo,drinking water,resting area etc. Staff at reception spoke a little English and provided a very useful map of the extensive grounds.

And I`ll leave you with this……

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In summary…beautiful riverside autumn scenery

Would I visit again? Yes,I`d like to see the baths lit up at night

Staff: Helpful and spoke some English

 

 

 

 

`WELCOME KYUSHU` ONSEN CONTEST 2016. Please vote for Kurokawa Onsen!

There must be a fair amount of friendly rivalry between the onsens in neighbouring prefectures of Kyushu! Last year,two onsens in Oita prefecture pipped Kurokawa Onsen to the post,forcing it into third place in this contest run by Kyushu Tourism. Currently,Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto Pref.) is in second place with 239 votes,a bit behind Yufuin Onsen (Oita Pref.) with 278….voting runs until January 15th ,2017 so there is still time to cast your vote and send the link to friends or relatives who have also visited Kurokawa Onsen. (Foreign tourists in Japan or overseas may vote,the contest prize is a pair of vouchers towards a one-night stay in an as-yet-undisclosed inn in Kyushu). Just click through on the heart mark of your chosen onsen (KUROKAWA ONSEN of course!) and that takes you to a second page to VOTE and enter your details if you would like to be entered in the prize draw.

PLUS,there is lots of useful information on the site on Kyushu Onsen,in English,Japanese and Chinese .Please go to the Welcome Kyushu website 

to cast your vote for Kurokawa Onsen!

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

GENERAL UPDATE 6 months after the Kumamoto/Oita earthquakes

Just a brief post to say that,six months after the  Kumamoto/Oita earthquakes in April this year,most things are pretty much back to normal in Kurokawa Onsen and have been for some time. Two inns,Kurokawaso ,Nanjoen and their outdoor baths are still not in operation,with some renovation work still ongoing (although there seems to be no mention of this on the main Kurokawa Tourism website).  Heavy rain earlier in the summer did cause a small landslide by the road in front of Yusai Hotel, and with roadworks underway temporary traffic lights are set up for the control of traffic there.

As for shops and restaurants,there is a new cafe Fu-do (風℃)centrally located in Sakuradori, selling real beef burgers,hotdogs,fried chicken,drinks and snacks.  A nice location for sitting outside on the deck area and watching the world go by…

Now that autumn is here Kurokawa bursts into colour,and attracted by various recent discount offers online, guests from Japan and overseas will be filling the inns,streets and baths once again.

 

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Enjoying the September three-day holiday

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New cafe `Fu-do`

 

For an excellent report on the Aso and Kumamoto region as a whole since the earthquake,please take a look at the  update by Helen over at Explore Kumamoto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPCOMING EVENT: Morning Hike Sunday,November 6th 2016

Good morning!

Unfortunately a wet and cloudy one,but we expect better weather on Sunday,November 6th this year for our biannual hiking event.

This time,we are planning a course of approximately one and a half hours,uphill but not a difficult walk. Lunch,a bottle of water and free entrance to one outdoor bath is included in the price. At 1pm,after lunch,you are then free to return to downtown Kurokawa (on foot).

Date: Sunday,November 6th 2016

Time: 10am for a 10:30am start

Place: Meet at Parking area 1 (across from Nishimura Inn,5 mins walk from Visitor Center)

Fee: 1500 yen per adult, 1000yen  per child (children free if lunch is not required)

A packed lunch,water and entrance to one outdoor bath is included in the price

* Please contact the organisers at `Bechinkan` (an office located downstairs behind the Visitor Center) if you would like to reserve a place,as numbers may be limited.  Tel: 0967-48-813o

Japanese flyer follows

 

Onsen-hop #23 Iromomiji

Exploring a fairly new hot spring complex on the outskirts of Kurokawa today, Iromomiji  (彩もみじ, not yet on the English onsen-hopping map,but tucked up a hill just a stone`s throw from Konoyu,which is number 23 on the map). The receptionist explained that they opened last October,but were forced to close for a while after the April earthquakes and just reopened this September.

It`s a fairly long walk from the visitor center,a steep climb at the end but apparently there is a shuttle bus (although I`m not sure if you have to phone for the bus ,possibly you do need to as I didn`t see it shuttling anyone backwards and forwards this afternoon….) Parking space may get a little tight at busy times,as there is also a soba restaurant next to the main outdoor bath and a mini village of at least six private family baths dotted in amongst the rocks and trees. These can be rented for a period of 50 minutes for between 1000 and 1500 yen and did look very attractive. But today I`m here for the purpose of outdoor onsen-hopping,so here`s the entrance…..

 

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Onsen-hoppers this way please!

 

Lovely wooden interior,shiny dark wood floors and comfortable changing rooms with lockers and everything you need…. a flight of stone steps leads down first to a spacious indoor bath….

 

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Indoor bath,shower area with amenities provided

 

….pause for the view….

 

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View on the way to the outdoor bath

 

….and then to the bubbling jacuzzi-style outdoor bath….which is actually quite unusal for outdoor onsen hop bath tubs!

 

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Nicely landscaped

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Jacuzzi style bath

Also offered within the shiny and new onsen-hopping designated area are a sauna and a medicinal herb tub.The main bath is quite hot today and whoops….I forgot to look up what type of hot spring waters flow here….it`s not a sulphorous smell,I`m guessing a mild alkaline,which is good for all skin types and said to smooth the skin.

Next door to the bathing area,behind a huge,imposing wooden entry gate, is the newly-opened (10/10) Gekkoju Ryokan  (月光樹) which offers 8 very private,tastefully decorated bungalows complete with private indoor and outdoor baths and amazing views…start saving for a stay here.

 

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Entrance gate to Gekkoju Ryokan

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Inside one of the 8 private bungalows

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Bath and verandah of one of the bungalows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary……squeaky clean and new

Would I visit again? Yes,anytime!

Staff: Very polite and helpful,litle English.