Onsen- hop # 6 `Nishimura`

…..at last the weather has cooled down enough to allow me back into hot (spring) water!

It was a rather dull and wet Friday afternoon when I decided to pop into Nishimura Ryokan`s outdoor bath (No.13 on the map),and I chose this one as it is right in the center of Kurokawa , easily accessible from the street and I had limited time for my dip. In fact you can drive right up to the building housing the outdoor baths,but dont forget to call in at the Ryokan reception across the way first to show your Onsen-hopping pass. Once inside the enclosed bathhouse though,with the sound of the river nearby and  trees and mossy roof overhead you can easily forget that you are bathing just a stone`s throw from Kurokawa`s main street!

 

IMG_0488

View of Nishimura Ryokan`s outdoor bath complex from the street.

 

So I was in the bath within moments,and although there were a few cold raindrops on my head I was mostly protected from the rain by overhead foliage and soon warmed up nicely in the quite spacious,rocky pool. Body soap provided,but no shower as far as I could see,so you just need to scoop up bowlfuls of water from the main bath for rinsing.

Whoops…loos must be across the road in the Ryokan building itself though…….that could prove a wee  bit inconvenient!

 

IMG_0480

Steamy waters….

 

Well,just a quick dip today but I`m happy to say that autumn is here and I will be trying out plenty of different outdoor baths in Kurokawa in this,my absolutely favourite, season!

 

 

 

IMG_0482

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary……central and convenient

Would I visit again?  Yes,if I just want a quick dip.

Staff: helpful

 

 

 

Onsen-hop # 4 `Sanga`

This is one of those inns in Kurokawa where a map of the grounds (and just one or two English signs, pretty please) might be useful!

The grounds are beautiful,a shady leafy lane runs down from the car park to the main entrance of Sanga Inn and then various paths branch off to the men`s and women`s indoor and outdoor baths (Onsen-hoppers may use both the indoor and outdoor baths).

The shady path to Sanga

The shady path to Sanga

 

The men`s outdoor bath here is spacious and doubles as the mixed bath (混浴),if you dare,or you could actually reserve one of the several private `family` baths (家族風呂) here at Sanga for a charge. These private baths seemed to be quite busy,although my visit was late on a Friday afternoon so many new guests had just arrived. From the beautiful photographs in the pamphlet I was given (nice souvenir too) I liked the look of the semi-outdoor large round wooden tub♥ …..but,back to my Onsen-hop for the day!

After bumping into a Swiss couple who were equally lost, we teamed up and  eventually found the women`s outdoor bath located towards the far end of the grounds and pretty much built on the riverbank.

IMG_0311

Bathing next to the river..

 

Once we ladies were inside the outdoor bath changing area however we realised two things,showers and toilets were back up the other end of the garden…..easy enough if you came in a yukata,but not if you have to put clothes back on again!

So this was my first Onsen-hop with a companion to chat with in English and perhaps for that reason I stayed in the bath a bit longer than usual and overheated…in fact,my face remained quite a bright shade of red for an hour or so after. I  wondered if this was due to the properties of this particular hot spring ,and a quick check on the `What`s in the Water? section of the  English Onsen-Hopping map  does indeed confirm that a saline spring (such as the one at Sanga) helps the body to retain heat,so I will probably save this and similar ones in future for winter visits. That`s if Sanga can even be reached in the winter, at least probably not without tire chains and expert driving skills if it snows…

 

One  thing we chatted about in the bath was the complete lack of signs in English…the Swiss lady had previously burnt her shoulder by sitting too near the pipe where the often scalding hot spring water gushes into the bath. In most baths there is usually a sign in Japanese warning of the danger,but nothing in English. It was also confusing as to whether it was OK to drink the hot spring water as all the signs were in Japanese only. I explained that if there was a small ladle hanging up somewhere nearby a water spout thingy it indicated that the water was drinkable, but neither of us was sure if it was OK to drink the (cold) water out of the cheap and ordinary-looking  tap at foot level,so we didn`t…

NB.The hot spring waters can have have various `effects` on the system when ingested,so best not to drink too much in one go!

 

A scoop for rinsing the body…

 

IMG_0247

Ladles for drinking water (taken at Kurokawaso)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary…

One word:  RIVERSIDE

Would I visit again?  Yes,but in winter.

Staff: Friendly and speak just a little English

Note: A few discreet English signs would be helpful!

 

 

 

 

 

Onsen-hop #2 : `Wakaba`

Well…after teaching an English lesson at Wakaba Inn (旅館わかば18 on the map) I found myself with an hour or so to spare before my next class,so I decided to pop downstairs and try out the women`s outdoor bath,which is also known as `Kesho no yu` (化粧の湯,literally `make-up` bath!) Again I was lucky to have the place to myself as it was a weekday and today`s  guests at the inn were all out exploring the town. No mixed bathing here either,but day-trippers and inn guests alike may reserve a private  bath (sometimes called `family` bath) for an hour for ¥2000 (waiting list at busy times…) There are two at Wakaba,both indoor.

I should mention that at some inns,such as Yamamizuki, Onsen-hoppers (holders of the Onsen-hopping pass) are directed to a set of entirely separate outdoor baths,whereas in many others they  use the same facilities as the staying guests. The baths I will be trying out are those made available to the day-trippers and Onsen-hoppers (unless some of the larger inns would like to offer to put me up for a night in return for a favourable blog write-up on their baths!)

Anyway….back downstairs at Wakaba this is what meets my eye…

 

 

IMG_0273

Try me….

 

Inviting….

Just the right temperature for me (some baths are too hhhot,but this seemed less hot than others I have tried..)

Secluded….

A  wooden roof and natural walls of bamboo and greenery protect onsen-goers from the elements and it doesn`t feel too open or exposed

Relaxing….

Of course,and at the shallow far end of the bath it is even possible to lie down to bathe.

The water was  cloudy,with a slightly greenish-brown tint (reflection of the greenery maybe) and I wondered if it had traces of iron in it,although the official certification on the wall describes the source as  a mildly acidic -type spring. Well,not to get too technical about it,but whatever was in it seemed to help dry up my spots!

After my bath,back at the top of the stairs was an area for resting ,with some ice-cold water provided for visitors for free and even some  free shaved ice (kakigori)  for the really hot days of summer!

 

In summary….

One word: SECLUDED

Would I come again?  Yes,I`d like to clear up my skin a bit…

Staff:   Welcoming,some English spoken

To note:  Difficult to see the stone ledges/steps as you enter the bath,proceed with caution!

 

 

IMG_0277

Someone to watch over me….