Eating and Shopping in Kurokawa #4 : Yunon Cafe and Gift Shop

Want to get some shopping and snacking done in the same place? Why not pop into Yunon  (湯音)Café and Gift Shop along Shimokawabata Dori ,the main shopping street by the river in the center of Kurokawa. Open every day from 9am to 6pm,it`s a busy and popular place with overseas and Japanese tourists alike.



Yunon Cafe and shop front


One side of the shop is filled with a selection of popular Kumamoto `omiyage` (souvenirs) of the edible kind,with a crunchy  snack in several different flavours called `karin-to` currently ranking #1, small bottles of flavoured cooking oil ranking at #2 and baumkuchen containing Oguni Jersey milk ranks at #3.



Tasteful selection of edible souvenirs


On the other side of the premises you can sit down at the counter with a glass of hot or cold café au lait (¥270) again made with Oguni Jersey milk, a soft ice cream cone (¥330) ,a beer, a horse meat croquette….or some plain fried chicken….there is certainly an interesting variety of snacks,and the menu and sign board outside do include clear photos with English printed under the Japanese.



Take away is also available!


I opted for a sweet and tasty `ikinaridango` which I took out, and then I continued my stroll around the streets on this rainy afternoon….




Rainy Kurokawa stroll…





OPEN DAILY: 9:00 to 18:00



Eating and Shopping in Kurokawa #3: Roku Cake shop

I find it impossible to walk past this bustling little cake shop without popping in for their speciality choux cream buns,freshly-filled to order (¥220) You can perch at the small table in the shop or on a bench outside and gobble them down straightaway (coffee is served too sometimes,but this may depend on how busy the shop is) or have them carefully packaged up with dry ice if you are taking them home for later.


Choux buns ready for filling!


ROKU shop front


Located in the narrow Shimokawabata-dori Street, ROKU (麓パティスリー)is on the corner just across from a small temple. It can get very crowded at times,with tourists buying boxes of cakes just after checking out mid-morning and before travelling home. Opening hours are from 9am to 6pm, closed Tuesdays. The cakes on display are mouth-watering,ranging from Apple pies to Swiss Rolls and cheesecakes and other seasonal choices.


Please note that ROKU is primarily a cake shop,not a sit down cafe,although they do let you perch for a short time to devour your recently purchased goodies!

And a polite request from the staff…..PLEASE do not touch any unwrapped cakes before you purchase!!! I know it can perhaps be hard for some of you to control yourselves….but it`s a no-no!



OPEN DAILY (not Tuesdays) 9:00 to 18:00

A little English spoken





Eating and Shopping in Kurokawa: Eating #2 Sobatatsu restaurant

It can be difficult to find a restaurant downtown in Kurokawa for a quick ,tasty yet not too expensive lunch, but `Sobatatsu`(蕎麦龍) is a recently-opened restaurant that fits the bill nicely. Located in the grounds of Wakaba Ryokan,in the building to the left of the main entrance,it`s a short walk from the Visitor Center.(Go down the stairs and slope immediately behind the Visitor Center,cross the bridge over the river,then walk up the fairly steep,narrow lane for the last bit and Wakaba Ryokan  (わかば旅館) is on the left not far from Ikoi Ryokan.



Entrance to Sobatatsu Restaurant


As the name suggests,the main dish on offer here is soba noodles,either hot or cold on their own,or as part of a set. It was a chilly day when I visited,so I warmed up nicely with a set of hot soba noodles with tempura (¥1200). To be honest I`m  not a soba noodle fan,but I really enjoyed these (freshly prepared on the premises by the owner earlier in the day),the soup was delicious and the tempura crisp and fresh. My son polished off a set of cold soba with tempura and was happy to then spend a few minutes using the free wifi connection here while I finished eating.



Hot soba tempura set…..


…or cold ….


Sobatatsu is a fairly new restaurant,seating 18 (western style)  and suitable both for families or solo travellers .Service is prompt,and while you are waiting there is free wifi anyway. An English menu is available,although daily specials are posted on the wall in Japanese. The restaurant also serves items such as chicken,onigiri rice balls ,various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.



English menu at Sobatatsu



OPEN DAILY: 12:00 to 15:00

ENGLISH MENU: Yes,a little English spoken (also by staff in neighbouring Ryokan)





Eating and shopping in Kurokawa : Eating #1 Shiratamakko

A slightly new direction for this blog for the time being.  Since I have now covered all of the Kurokawa Onsen Association member outdoor public baths (those where an Onsen-hopping pass may be used),I`ll move onto the equally important topics of eating,drinking and shopping in and around Kurokawa.

I`ll include basic information,such as opening days and times,location,sample dishes and prices and my personal recommendations…..but please bear in mind that,in particular,opening times will vary according to the season and as most of these businesses are family-run,there will be times when unscheduled days off are unavoidable.  Also….a very important point is that some smaller shops will not be able to accept Credit Cards and there are no banks or cash machines in Kurokawa itself.  Please either bring enough cash in small notes on your trip,or ask at your Ryokan if they can help you with changing money if necessary (there are banks and cash machines in nearby Oguni Town,approx 15 minutes drive from Kurokawa,as well as a cash machine at the Family Mart in Minami Oguni)

EATING and DRINKING IN KUROKAWA  #1 Shiratamakko Japanese café.(Established 2003)



Shiratamakko shop front


A central location by the river ,right in  the heart of Kurokawa, Shiratamakko Japanese café is open daily from 9:30 to 18:00 and offers an extensive choice of hot and cold drinks, Japanese style ice cream parfaits,mini sets and seasonal sets. The soft white rice dumplings are handmade by the owner using high quality ingredients and no additives. An English menu with clear photos and descriptions is available,and staff are welcoming and speak a little English. The café interior is simple,with seating for approx 24 customers, cosy in winter….fully air-conditioned in summer.



Looking out from the cafe interior on a quiet day…

Shiratamakko is ideal for a sweet snack after your bath,or just relaxing with a cup of delicious green `Matcha` tea and watching the world go by.  My favourite warming dish here in winter is the  `Shiratama Zenzai` set (rice dumplings in a sweet red bean soup) for ¥918  and the coffee is pretty good too.

My son`s recommendation is the Matcha parfait…..the photo says it all. Everything piled into this parfait dish for ¥918.




In summer…you may also want to dig into the amazing Fuji mountain of flavoured shaved ice ,but take a photo quickly before it disappears!



New,easy to understand shop signs.




OPEN DAILY: 9:30 to 18:00 (Last order for a set is 17:30) Winter opening times may vary.

ENGLISH MENU: Yes, a little English is spoken

CREDIT CARDS: Sorry,not accepted.

MINIMUM ORDER: One order per person please.

TAKE OUT: Available for some items on the menu






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…..