Part of the fun of outdoor bathing in Kurokawa lies in actually finding the establishment,venturing inside then getting lost while negotiating flights of stairs and,in some cases,miles of corridors to reach the bath itself…..so I`ll try not to spoil the fun for you. Ryokan Yumotoso (旅館 湯本荘 ,number 20 on the English map) you can`t miss it,or maybe you can!
To be honest,from the outside I wasn`t expecting much,but inside the Ryokan was warm and welcoming on this wet,winter morning. All the polished wood looked quite old and beautiful . So….off down the stairs and along the corridor we headed,which is almost always a good route to start with…
Once again,with our mid-morning timing we were lucky to avoid the crowds and my friend and I had the small,rocky outdoor bath to ourselves. Although one of the smaller public outdoor baths in Kurokawa all facilities are provided and the ferruginous (iron) spring water here is a fairly unusual (for Kurokawa) brownish colour with an earthy smell. When you leave the bath it`s not necessary to rinse the beneficial hot spring water off,although you may want to check for orangey-brown smudges if you have rubbed against the iron deposits on the rocks in the pool. The waters here are said to be good for treating anemia.
Unfortunately my friend and I had to rush off to a meeting,so we didn`t linger in the cosy rest area provided. I really appreciate the fact that this kind of area is provided by most Ryokan,and it is quite acceptable for onsen-hoppers to linger a while and enjoy a drink and a rest before moving on. Also,I realised after I had got dressed that indoor bathing here includes a bath in a large sake barrel,although as the baths are swapped over each day it may have been over on the men`s side today anyway.
In summary…..central,with an olde worlde feel
Would I visit again? Yes,to try the sake barrel bath!
Staff: Helpful,very little English.