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.


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…



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!






Summer Event: Firefly- watching Tour (for Kurokawa Ryokan guests)

Just a quick mention of the Firefly-watching tour  each evening which is is arranged for guests staying at the Ryokan (Japanese Inns) in Kurokawa. The evening tour must be booked during the day (until 4pm) at your inn,and then a bus will pick you up and take you to a nearby viewing area at 8pm for approximately an hour. Twenty places are available on the bus.

The tour runs every evening until July 31st,but not in the rain,and sightings are highly likely,but cannot always be guaranteed!

Apparently there are three kinds of firelies,the Genji (largest) Heike and Hime (smallest) which all give a slightly different glow or pulse of light!












Please DON`T take flash photos,leave rubbish,trample the firefly habitat or make loud noises when you are viewing the fireflies!


Below is the original Japanese poster from the Kurokawa Onsen website (hopefully this kind of information will eventually be available on the English website when it is up and running later this year)


Summer Event: Kurokawa bar-hopping (now until July 31st)

(NOTE: I will try to add a PDF version of the maps..bear with me!)

Here`s some information about  something to do in the evening in Kurokawa,it`s called`bar-hopping`.

Here`s the original (in mini form!) Japanese leaflet,followed by my summary of the important bits in English.

You can pick up a (Japanese) map at the Visitor Center showing the 22 the different locations ( mostly Ryokan,but including  two restaurants and a shop) and a short description of the type of drink and snack you can expect. I`ve also included a brief description of the drinks on offer in English below.




WHAT?   A special bar-hopping pass made of wood (kappo tegata かっぽ手形)is available for ¥1500 from the reception of most inns and Visitor Center.
WHEN?   You can bar-hop between 15:00 and 21:00 (April 1st to July 31st)
WHERE?  Visit any 3 of the 22 inns,restaurants and (one) shop featured on the accompanying Japanese leaflet.
HOW?  Just present a valid pass,staff will remove one seal and you will be shown to the designated bar-hop area, given a bamboo cup (kappo) of sake or shochu and a small Japanese-style snack (tsumami) to go with your drink.
AGE LIMIT?  Yes…you have to be over 20 to drink alcohol in Japan,but a non-alcoholic drink can be requested.

Please look at the corresponding numbers on the Japanese map to locate each establishment and plan your bar-hop. DON`T DRINK AND DRIVE!
On the other side of the leaflet you can also see a photo of the type of drinks and snacks offered.
Usually the pictured snack and the drink described below will be served,but at certain times this will vary.

1. SATONOYU WARAKU offers Original WARAKU shochu made from wheat (mugi)
2. IYASHINOSATO KIYASHIKI offers homemade Plum Liquor (umeshu)
3. RYOKAN OKUNOYU offers local HORAI sake from Oguni
5.  RYOKAN WAKABAoffers local HORAI sake
6. IKOI RYOKAN offers local HORAI sake
7. OKYAKUYAoffers KURA IPPON sake from Oguni
9. RYOKAN ICHINOI offers OISHI shochu
10. WAFURYOKAN MISATO offers YAMANOKAMI sweet potato shochu
11. KYORAKU Restaurant offers AKIGESHIKI sake (Please note we open from 18:00 and are closed Sunday)
12. GOTO Liquor Shop offers IMOGURUMA shochu made from taro (sato imo)
13.  NANJYOENoffers original NANJYOEN shochu mixed with tea
14.  GARAM Restaurant offers HISUI sake (Please note we open evenings from 19:00 and our day off varies)
17. OYADO KUROKAWA offers local HORAI sake
18. FUMOTO RYOKAN offers KAZENOMORI doburoku sake
19. RYOKAN YUMOTOSO offers local HORAI sake
21. RYOKAN KONOYU offers KAZENOMORI doburoku sake
22.  RYOKAN SANGAoffers KOKOROYUKUMADE sweet potato shochu

CHEERS! Or as they say in Kurokawa KAPPO!!!


If this kind of activity proves popular it will probably continue through the late summer and autumn,but it currently seems to be running for a trial period. It looks like fun,as otherwise there isn`t that much to do of an evening in Kurokawa  (well,apart from hanging around your Ryokan,relaxing in your room or taking dips in various baths!). The purchase of a `Bar-hopping` pass together with an `Onsen-hopping` pass could prove an interesting combination…..but you`d better make sure you can find your way home afterwards!



The making of  `Kappo` bamboo cups

The making of `Kappo` bamboo cups



Bar-hopping pass

Bar-hopping pass


















Onsen-hop #3: `Waraku`

A little way out of town and off the beaten track  lies  peaceful Waraku Inn (和らく number  22  on the Onsen map).

At the outdoor baths of this small inn  you are unlikely to be disturbed by a coachload of fellow bathers,or by anyone at all for that matter  ,and on the late weekday afternoon I visited I only saw one other onsen-goer. The route to the bath from the inn first leads through a garden area,then down  steps (right side for women,left for men,although the sign is changed over at 3pm every afternoon). I discovered almost too late that this is a `go before you change` bath…..the toilets are located in a different building to the changing rooms, back at the top of the steps! So remember to `go before` you start getting undressed… this arrangement is true of several baths I have visited recently.



Separate bathing here….


The women`s bath was quite spacious and I was intrigued by the powdery white sediment deposited on the surfaces of the rocky bath. This is  harmless and a deposit of the sulphur hot spring waters that run into the baths here, which also have that distinctive smell of bad eggs!



Peaceful bathing at Waraku…


At this time of year the fresh green of the maple leaves overhead is particularly uplifting,my fellow bather noted. She also hoped to be able to come back in the Autumn to see the changing colours of the leaves. This is one bath that I would also love to visit at least once each season,as I`m sure it is quite a different experience in each of the four seasons. A sign in one area of the bath near the water gushing into it warned that the water there was scalding hot,but an area on the other side notified bathers that it was a relatively cool 38°C.  Funnily though,I am enjoying quite hot baths even on these humid June days ,  I had felt very hot and sticky on the day I visited Waraku,but on leaving I was feeling very refreshed and relaxed and ready for my evening classes.

Sadly,although I was invited for a drink in the cafe area I had to go straight off to work.

But I had left my mark…IMG_0284



In summary…..

One word: Peaceful

Would I visit again?  Yes, for the Autumn foliage.

Staff: Attentive,some English spoken.

To note:  Quite isolated,may be too quiet for some?







June event: Free bathing on June 26th!

FREE outdoor bathing  day in Kurokawa Onsen !

WHEN?    June 26th,2014 from 10:00 to 15:00 (day-trippers/onsen-hoppers)

10:00 to 21:00 (ryokan guests,who must wear their  yukata to participate)

WHERE?   The outdoor baths (rotenburo 露店風呂) at any of the 24  participating ryokan in Kurokawa (please click on the `Onsen Map` link at the top of the page for a Kurokawa map in English)

WHY?      It`s a kind of play on words… The number  26 can be read in Japanese as `fu ro`,which also means `bath`. So go ahead and enjoy a free bath on this especially significant date in June!

Just pop into the reception of the ryokan first (rather than go directly to the bath) and they will show you the way.

There will also be free tea served in the Relaxation Lounge at the `Bechin-kan Building` behind the Visitor Center between 10:00 and 15:00. 😉


I think I`ve covered the useful bits (the important-looking red triangles on the blue and green lines meeting at the Visitor Center in the middle of the map below appear to be stops for a shuttle bus running from 10:00 to 15:00,but I`d better check that with my boss as I`m not 100% sure…)

Just noticed that the Heisei year is also 26,so the date for this free bathing extravaganza is actually 26/6/26 . So book a day off,grab your towel and head for Kurokawa!





●開催日 平成26年6月26日木曜日

●露天風呂無料開放時間 10:00~15:00まで

●べっちん館休憩所のお茶サービス 10:00~15:00まで


露天風呂の日 駐車場のご案内