Shopping and Eating in Kurokawa # 12 : Raifu Gift Shop

If your afternoon stroll takes you on a circuit of Kurokawa Onsen (along Sakura Dori and then past the Police Station and on to Shimokawabata Dori) you may notice Raifu (来負)Gift Shop tucked away in the corner on the bend,although at first glance it could easily be mistaken for a private house.

 

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Raifu Gift Shop tucked in a corner…

 

Looking for something different to Kumamon or the usual mass-produced souvenirs? Raifu offers a variety of handmade items,ranging from unusual pottery bits and bobs (including jewellery) to dried flower craft , recycled kimono material and much more….

 

Pottery corner

Pottery corner

 

Inside Raifu Gift Shop

Inside Raifu Gift Shop

 

Call in for a browse around and you may find that unique little something you have been searching for!

SUMMARY

Open: 9:00 to 18:00 most days

Credit cards accepted

 

 

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)

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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New,easy to understand shop signs.

 

 

SUMMARY

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…..

期間限定シェア入湯手形

Kurokawa Onsen Visitor Center and `Bechinkan`; New Year Taiko Drums 2017

A quick round up of events  as 2016 nears an end….

Between now and the end of March 2017 enjoy an  evening stroll in the center of Kurokawa and you can view the beautiful warm light given off by hand-carved bamboo lanterns erected along the river.

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Bamboo lanterns

If you enjoy listening to Japanese drums,then make sure to visit Kurokawa on one of the first three Sundays in January. There will be a performance by Yamanami Taiko group at NOON on January 1st,8th and 15th in the square in front of `Bechinkan` (just go down the stairs behind the Visitor Center)

 

VISITOR CENTER `Kazenoya`

When you visit Kurokawa Onsen,make sure to pop in the Visitor Center if you need any help or advice,the staff speak a little English and are very helpful. In the Visitor Center ( open daily from 9am to 6pm) you can:

-Buy Onsen-hopping passes and get English Onsen-hopping maps

-Get various maps and guides in English,such as the Hiking Map or maps/guides of the Minami Oguni area

-Book a room at a ryokan (if vacancies are available)

-Rent an audio guide (English available)

-Ask about local transport

-Buy a small present,drinks etc in the shop

-Leave luggage in coin lockers nearby

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Entrance to the Visitor Center `Kazenoya`.

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Inside the Visitor Center/shop

 

`BECHINKAN`

Take the steps down from the Visitor Center and you will also find the `Bechinkan` which offers:

-Various Maps and guides

-Yukata robe rental

-Electric bicycle rental (except in winter months)

-English-speaking staff

-A large tatami `Relaxation Lounge` where you can enter free of charge to take a rest and cool down in summer (or warm up in winter) . Take off your shoes of course and please do not smoke or disturb others using the lounge. This is also where visitors wishing to rent a yukata can get changed.

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Entrance to the `Relaxation Lounge` open 10am to 5pm daily.

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Entrance to `Bechinkan`

 

Enjoy the winter holidays,and be sure to come and visit Kurokawa Onsen to warm up in the hot spring waters.

One of the best onsen experiences I have ever had in Kurokawa was bathing one evening in an outdoor bath while snowflakes landed and melted on my face…..it was worth the 5km/hour drive home in the snow,which had settled considerably while we were bathing. Be prepared if you do visit in winter,snow tires or chains will be necessary if it snows on some of the steep and windy roads leading to the inns located on the outskirts of the Kurokawa Onsen area.

Best Wishes everyone for the New Year 2017!

 

 

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