For this week`s report I decided to pop back to try the outdoor bath at a very popular inn `Yamamizuki` (山みず木 21 on the English Map) that I had previously visited the winter before last. At that time there was major construction work going on,with new accommodation going up on what had previously been rice paddies a little further down the river from the main Inn. This work is now complete and I`m happy to see that the improvements included a few signs here and there in Japanese,English and Korean! On my previous visit several signs were old and faded in Japanese only,and I was handed a photocopy of a hand-drawn map to help find my way around the extensive bathing area.
For day-trippers or onsen-hoppers the entrance to the baths between 8am and 6pm is actually through the Coffee Shop `Inoya`,where several rows of lockers,and also the toilets (I guess) can be found. Pass through the shop and follow the path to the right for women,left for men.
The outdoor baths are spacious and positioned directly on the riverbank,and visitors may also use the indoor baths,which are well-equipped with small shower `cubicles`,shampoo,conditioner and body soap. Pretty sure the sign for the indoor bath was in Japanese only though,and it was quite a long walk,made clutching my towel very carefully. Of course,no-one could see me,but there were some workmen repairing a thatched roof very close by……. and I felt slightly exposed making the dash from outdoor to indoor bath along a garden path!
The waters of both outdoor and indoor baths were a perfect temperature,not too hot at all,and the grounds and bathing areas were very well-kept and spotless. After bathing,on the way out there was ,I believe , another small room with hairdryers ,make-up mirrors etc. Perhaps this was where the toilets were too,but I forgot to check before exiting through the Coffee Shop. Looked quite inviting,but had to get back to (my other) work….
It`s worth noting that Yamamizuki operates a free shuttle bus to and from downtown Kurokawa (stops in front of the `Tsukemonoya` pickle shop,not far from the Visitor Center) between approx. 11am and 5pm. Onsen-hoppers may use this service too,otherwise it`s a taxi ride or a 20min walk from the center.
In summary……riverside,yet not too rustic.
Would I visit again? Yes,would probably bring overseas visitors wanting a hot spring `experience`
Staff: Lots of them around,some English spoken.