Snow and ice in Kurokawa and area, February 2017

 

UPDATE: ( February 18) Snow and ice cleared quickly,but cold conditions may return later this month,so please do check the weather forecast before setting out .

Kurokawa and area look absolutely stunning today (February 9th) after a few cms of snow during the night….but please do take care if you are driving. Temperatures drop considerably at night, and there will be icy patches in the early morning ,especially on the roads to and from some of the ryokan a little way out of the center of town. Winter tyres or chains may be necessary,if in doubt please ask the inn staff before you leave,or the car rental clerk before you set off on the drive to Kurokawa. Coaches use tyre chains in the snowy conditions,and are not usually badly affected.

Take great care if you are driving from Kumamoto on the `Milk Road`!

Of course….if the worst comes to the worst,Kurokawa has got to be one of the best places to be snowed in for a day or two!

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Light snow,a photo from mid January.

 

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View from a Ryokan in central Kurokawa this morning (February 9th)

 

 

 

Kurokawa Onsen Visitor Center and `Bechinkan`; New Year Taiko Drums 2017

A quick round up of events  as 2016 nears an end….

Between now and the end of March 2017 enjoy an  evening stroll in the center of Kurokawa and you can view the beautiful warm light given off by hand-carved bamboo lanterns erected along the river.

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Bamboo lanterns

If you enjoy listening to Japanese drums,then make sure to visit Kurokawa on one of the first three Sundays in January. There will be a performance by Yamanami Taiko group at NOON on January 1st,8th and 15th in the square in front of `Bechinkan` (just go down the stairs behind the Visitor Center)

 

VISITOR CENTER `Kazenoya`

When you visit Kurokawa Onsen,make sure to pop in the Visitor Center if you need any help or advice,the staff speak a little English and are very helpful. In the Visitor Center ( open daily from 9am to 6pm) you can:

-Buy Onsen-hopping passes and get English Onsen-hopping maps

-Get various maps and guides in English,such as the Hiking Map or maps/guides of the Minami Oguni area

-Book a room at a ryokan (if vacancies are available)

-Rent an audio guide (English available)

-Ask about local transport

-Buy a small present,drinks etc in the shop

-Leave luggage in coin lockers nearby

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Entrance to the Visitor Center `Kazenoya`.

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Inside the Visitor Center/shop

 

`BECHINKAN`

Take the steps down from the Visitor Center and you will also find the `Bechinkan` which offers:

-Various Maps and guides

-Yukata robe rental

-Electric bicycle rental (except in winter months)

-English-speaking staff

-A large tatami `Relaxation Lounge` where you can enter free of charge to take a rest and cool down in summer (or warm up in winter) . Take off your shoes of course and please do not smoke or disturb others using the lounge. This is also where visitors wishing to rent a yukata can get changed.

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Entrance to the `Relaxation Lounge` open 10am to 5pm daily.

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Entrance to `Bechinkan`

 

Enjoy the winter holidays,and be sure to come and visit Kurokawa Onsen to warm up in the hot spring waters.

One of the best onsen experiences I have ever had in Kurokawa was bathing one evening in an outdoor bath while snowflakes landed and melted on my face…..it was worth the 5km/hour drive home in the snow,which had settled considerably while we were bathing. Be prepared if you do visit in winter,snow tires or chains will be necessary if it snows on some of the steep and windy roads leading to the inns located on the outskirts of the Kurokawa Onsen area.

Best Wishes everyone for the New Year 2017!

 

 

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.