NEW Shared Onsen-hopping pass for groups!

Since  the middle of January a new type of shared onsen-hopping pass  (シェア入湯手形 sheya nytotegata)  has been on sale at the Visitor Center in Kurokawa.

Ideal if you are visiting with a group of friends the pass costs only ¥2200 and allows a total of 6 entries to the baths.

(Single entrance to a bath is usually between ¥500 and ¥800,so you could easily save at least ¥800) here are some sample combinations for your shared pass!

-A group of six could enter one choice of bath once

-A group of three could enter a choice of two different baths once

-A couple could enter a choice of three different baths once    etc etc

The pass is valid for 6 months from the date of purchase and is undergoing a trial period. It is the same size as the regular onsen-hopping pass,but just has more stickers on the back. (One sticker will be removed per person per bath entrance)

So if you are visiting Kurokawa with a group of friends in the near future,please give it a try!

 

Japanese follows…..

期間限定シェア入湯手形

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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Onsen-hop #22 Yumerindo

One of the great things about Kurokawa Onsen is that even on a rainy day you can go ahead and enjoy a spot of onsen-hopping in the outdoor baths,as most of them are provided with a  roofed section to offer protection against the  rain. Yumerindo ( 夢龍胆 number 9 on the English onsen-hopping map) was no exception and proved an ideal choice for a mid-morning dip in the rain.

 

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Entrance to Yumerindo

 

The staff were very attentive and helpful from the moment my friend and I stepped through the door,even though we were only there for an onsen-hop . A receptionist  (from Taiwan) spoke English,Chinese and Japanese and other staff seemed to follow our English quite well. It`s a large inn,elevators are available and we made our way down  from reception to the outdoor baths without getting too lost. Once again,being mid-morning, we had the spacious bath and changing rooms to ourselves.

 

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Spacious outdoor bathing and roofed area

 

Yumerindo also boasts a large mixed bath (混浴風呂 or konyoku buro)for as many as 30 bathers…but we didnt try it out,as it would have meant getting dressed again and walking through to a different changing room. Maybe next time,if we remember to take out yukata with us!

 

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The sign says `Men` but this passageway also leads to the mixed bath

 

We lingered for a while in the lobby,which had some great views all around and would be a very pleasant place for a coffee or refreshments after your bath.

 

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Lobby and views…

 

The baths were far less crowded than the fish tank….

 

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In summary……..spacious baths

Would I visit again?   Yes,perhaps to try the mixed bath!

Staff: Attentive and polite,with English knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Onsen-hop #21 Yamanoyu

Looking at the small and unimposing entrance directly off Shimokawabata Dori in the centre of  Kurokawa Onsen you might almost decide to give the baths at Ryokan Yamanoyu (旅館やまの湯,number 17 on the English onsen-hopping map) a miss….

 

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Entrance to Ryokan Yamanoyu

 

But if you are in the center of town and looking for  a quick and quiet dip this is the ideal stop,if you don’t mind steps.I found it quite intriguing that after taking the elevator to the 4th floor there was a corridor,then a flight of steps,then another…

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…and another…

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….and another….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So by the time  I reached the actual outdoor baths ,which are quiet,compact and secluded ,I was fairly high up ,tucked away on the hillside. Hence the name ‘Yamanoyu’,which literally means ‘mountain bath’.

 

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Small and secluded

 

Facilities were basic yet adequate,and at 10:30 on a rainy weekday morning I had the place to myself. The  mildly acidic (tanjyunsen) spring water was just the right temperature,and not too hot for the lingering humidity and heat of September…hooray,autumn is finally just around the corner!

 

 

In summary……lots of steps

Would I visit again?   Yes,for a quiet and central dip

Staff: Polite,but all communication in Japanese (and very few English signs,you may get lost….)

 

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Nice lamps….