New Year 2018 in Kurokawa

Winter is the perfect season for spending a leisurely day in Kurokawa Onsen with your onsen-hopping pass (¥1300,good for three baths) and warming  up in an outdoor hot spring bath.

Over the New Year period,the outdoor baths are open as usual!  Most shops and cafes are also open,although you may find that many will take a day or two off in early January just after New Year.

If you are in Kurokawa on Monday Jan 1st,Sunday 14th or Sunday 21st there will be mochi rice cake-pounding and a Japanese drum performance held in the square behind the Visitor Center from 1pm (please do check at the Visitor Center in case the scheduled time for this event changes).

Bamboo illuminations along the river in the center of Kurokawa can also be viewed in the evenings from December 22nd until the end of March.

 

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Bamboo illuminations in central Kurokawa

 

Take care on the roads,especially early morning or at night if the weather is snowy . Temperatures can drop and there may be icy patches.

A Happy New Year of the Dog 2018!

 

 

 

Best season to visit Kurokawa Onsen is now!

Sunny autumn skies,cool crisp morning air,a sea of clouds over Aso and autumn colours  everywhere…in my opinion this simply is the best time of year to visit Kurokawa Onsen and area.

Now is the perfect time to pop over to Kurukawa Onsen for a day trip with your friends. Just purchase an onsen-hopping pass,rent a Yukata for the day if you like and spend the day wandering around town taking in the atmosphere and popping into the local cafes for coffee or lunch. A week day will be quieter,and during the period after checkout at 10am and check in at 3pm,you may even be lucky enough to have the bath to yourselves!

Feeling more energetic? Then pick up an English Hiking Map and set off on foot to see the spectacular views from Lover`s Hill (or rent an electric bicycle!). Once you return to the town center, relax in a hot spring bath and then maybe try out some of the autumn specials in the Roux cake shop or other specialities that are on offer around town.

 

Kurokawa autumn colours

 

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A short walk out of Kurokawa center…

 

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Leafy waters… (pond,not a bath!)

 

 

Yukata Rental in Kurokawa Onsen

Why not dress the part during your onsen-hopping day trip to Kurokawa Onsen?

 

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Getting ready for the yukata experience!

 

For several years now,yukatas have been available for rent from a small office (known    as`Bechinkan` べっちん館) tucked downstairs behind the Visitor Center.

 

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Stairs next to Visitor Center lead to `Bechinkan`

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Yukata Rental (right) Relaxation Room (left)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The office is open from 10 am to 4:30pm daily and for only ¥1500 you may select a colourful yukata and obi belt to wear for the rest of the day. Traditional Japanese sandals called `setta` are also part of the rental package,as well as a warm half-length jacket to pop on top in cooler weather.

 

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Entrance to the Bechinkan office and yukata rental

 

Helpful,English-speaking staff will help you put on your yukata in the comfort of the nearby `Relaxation Room` with lockers also provided for your regular clothes so you don`t have to worry about carrying them around with you all day!  Recent visitors from Singapore agreed that wearing the yukatas during their visit to Kurokawa was a wonderful experience and would recommend it to others,they also commented on the a large choice of colours and sizes. However,the rental service runs on a first come,first served basis so come early for the best choice!

Bechinkan tel no: 0967-48-8130

Opening hours: 10:00 to 16:30

 

 

 

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