Onsen-hop #18 Ryokan Yumotoso

Part of the fun of outdoor bathing in Kurokawa lies in actually finding the establishment,venturing inside then getting lost while negotiating flights of stairs and,in some cases,miles of corridors to reach the bath itself…..so I`ll try not to spoil the fun for you. Ryokan Yumotoso (旅館 湯本荘 ,number 20 on the English map) you can`t miss it,or maybe you can!

 

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Outside the entrance to Yumotoso

 

To be honest,from the outside I wasn`t expecting much,but inside the Ryokan was warm and welcoming on this wet,winter morning. All the polished wood looked quite old and beautiful . So….off down the stairs and along the corridor we headed,which is almost always a good route to start with…

 

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Nicely polished wood throughout….

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Cosy hearth area for a rest after bathing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again,with our mid-morning timing we were lucky to avoid the crowds and my friend and I had the small,rocky outdoor bath to ourselves. Although one of the smaller public outdoor baths in Kurokawa all facilities are provided and the ferruginous (iron) spring water here is a fairly unusual (for Kurokawa) brownish colour with an earthy smell. When you leave the bath it`s not necessary to rinse the beneficial hot spring water off,although you may want to check for orangey-brown smudges if you have rubbed against the iron deposits on the rocks in the pool. The waters here are said to be good for treating anemia.

 

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Steamy waters on a winter morning,note the reddish iron deposits!

 

Unfortunately my friend and I had to rush off  to a meeting,so we didn`t linger in the cosy rest area provided. I really appreciate the fact that this kind of area is provided by most Ryokan,and it is quite acceptable for onsen-hoppers to linger a while and enjoy a drink and a rest before moving on. Also,I realised after I had got dressed that  indoor bathing here  includes a bath in a large sake barrel,although as the baths are swapped over each day it may have been over on the men`s side today anyway.

 

 

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In summary…..central,with an olde worlde feel

Would I visit again?  Yes,to try the sake barrel bath!

Staff: Helpful,very little English.

 

 

 

Onsen-hop #17 Ikoi Ryokan

Ikoi Ryokan (いこい旅館 11 on the printed English guide map) is an established,  centrally-located inn very popular with Korean tourists,but luckily when my friend and I visited the baths today it was lunchtime and we had the baths almost to ourselves.

 

Entrance to Ikoi Ryokan

Entrance to Ikoi Ryokan

 

Lots of corridors, paths ,signs and stairs later we  managed to find the women`s bathing area,also known as `Bijin-yu` (beauty bath) which is described as one of the top 100 hot spring baths in Japan.

 

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Go upstairs to the women`s baths

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The polished path to `Beauty Bath`

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word of warning….the women`s rocky pool bath down the steps was the hottest hot spring I have ever tried and although I wanted to get in quickly because it was cold, I could only lower myself in very slowly and gradually. A sign ,in English, warned that the water pouring into the pool was `boiling`,it certainly felt like it! Later,I found it much more comfortable to sit at the edge of the standing bath where the temperature was more like a normal bath. I must have missed the sign here (as well as the step) but this was also the deepest standing bath I have ever tried (in fact, come to think of it,probably too deep for most Japanese ladies of average height to stand up in comfortably!). Hold onto the bamboo grips at the side,and mind your step!

 

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Main rocky pool with boiling hot water spout

 

Feeling warmed and beautified after our dip we had a little bit of an explore and found there are several private baths here for rental for 800yen/adult/ 40 minute slot and also bathing areas which are only for use by the hotel guests. As far as onsen-hopping is concerned it is probably the men who get the better deal here as they may use three different baths, `Takino-yu` (waterfall massage) ,`Utase-yu` and `Hako-yu` (wooden indoor bath) AND apparently the large outdoor men`s bath is also for mixed bathing. (I must admit I`m never quite sure….and not being a fan of mixed public bathing….. I`ll give it a miss for today).

 

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Details of baths available ,including private baths.

 

We also had a look around the Inn entrance area,where there are Onsen eggs going for 50yen each,a foot bath if you haven`t yet had enough of bathing and a cosy seating area around a hearth where you can have a rest before continuing on your way.

 

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Foot bath

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Cosy hearth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary….hottest and deepest

Would I visit again?  ONE day I will be brave, return with my husband  and try the large mixed bath

Staff: Yes,very little English.