Spring at last! Kurokawa update for March 2020.

Wandering around the center of Kurokawa late one Monday afternoon in March ,the sun is bright and the sky blue, but the streets are noticeably  quieter than usual.

 

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Kurokawa resident

 

Well….maybe just a little quieter, there is a notable absence of tour groups, and most of the visitors in town  seem to be young ,recently graduated students on day trips. Inns and outdoor public  baths  are all open ,as are most of the shops, cafes and restaurants .

 

Bechinkan  Center ,Yukata and Bicycle rental.

Bechinkan Center ,Yukata and Bicycle rental.

 

Plenty of interesting little shops to look around…..and

 

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The ¥1000 store

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Marusho Giftshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..I found a friendly dog waiting to greet visitors at Sakura-an  Cafe…..

 

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Sakura-an Cafe

 

It’s spring, cherry blossom season is almost here and Kurokawa is always here. We are open and waiting to welcome you,so please take the opportunity to visit and enjoy the peace,quiet and beauty!

 

Onsen -hoppers leave their mark....

Onsen -hoppers leave their mark….

 

 

 

 

A Happy New Year of the Mouse,2020!

A Happy New Year of the Mouse ,2020!
Chilly evenings may draw in quickly during the winter months,but you’re sure to find a warm and bright welcome in Kurokawa at this time of year!

 

Visitor Centre,Kurokawa.

Visitor Centre,Kurokawa.

 

The Visitor Center offers  a particularly warm welcome during this season.  You can browse through the various maps and leaflets ,purchase your Onsen-hopping pass (and obtain your form to enter the 3-millionth visitor contest ) ,do a spot of souvenir shopping or just warm your hands in front of the cosy wood -burning stove .

 

 

 

 

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Visitor Center Reception

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Cosy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wander out into the streets and you’ll find a variety of lights,lamps and illuminations ,with the main bamboo light display  (湯あかりor yuakari)along the river  being switched on at 5pm every evening until the end of March. Don’t miss the various photo opportunities along the riverbank!

 

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Kurokawa light up “yuakari” 2020!

 

Kurokawa cafes offer a chance to sit down and warm up with a hot bowl of ‘Zenzai ’ (a traditional New Year dish of sweet red bean soup with small rice dumplings ) and brightly-lit shops will tempt you out of the cold. I haven’t mentioned the obvious….but your quickest way of warming up this season will be ,of course, to soak in a luxuriously hot outdoor bath ……take your choice from over twenty five locations available to the Kurokawa Onsen-hoppers . And …..the Onsen -hopping pass is still a bargain in 2020 at a cost of ¥1300 for entry into 3 different public outdoor baths.

 

‘Kadomatsu’ New Year Decoration in front of Kurokawa Visitor Center.

‘Kadomatsu’ New Year Decoration in front of Kurokawa Visitor Center.

 

PS.  Catch some drumming and rice cake (mochi) making at Bechinkan,down the steps behind the Visitor  Center,on January 12th from midday!

Wonder at the sight of a cackling bonfire of bamboo at `dondoya` on January 13th from 10am (But please enquire at the Visitor Center about the exact location as this event is held in nearby fields)

 

*  Please note that the times and locations of these events may be subject to change depending on the weather and local conditions. As always,at this time of year please take care on the roads,which can sometimes be slippy at night or early in the morning when temperatures can drop to below freezing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October …Matsuri time again! (2019)

October pretty much means just one thing here in Kurokawa Onsen…its time to celebrate and be thankful for the plentiful, beneficial hot spring waters that flow forth in this corner of Kyushu!

 

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Various events,with something for all ages, will take part over the weekend of October 5th and 6th, culminating in a colourful parade with a historical theme through central Kurokawa on Sunday morning (please be prepared for some traffic restrictions and follow signs past the gasoline stand to a spacious parking area from where a shuttle bus will operate).

 

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Details of the events starting on Saturday afternoon will be posted near the main event stage,which is next to the Visitor Center,or just pop in and ask . Dont miss the fireworks late on Saturday night! (Times/events are subject to change)

 

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Spring (2019) in Kurokawa

Time to get a group of friends together and explore  Kurokawa Onsen, where the the spring air is fresh,the hot spring baths well….hot and various colourful blooms and blossoms are returning!

 

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View across the bridge near Nishimura Ryokan

 

 

Don`t forget that for only ¥1,500 you can rent a yukata set (yukata,obi belt and warm hanten jacket) from Bechin-kan ,which is located downstairs behind the Vistor Center . Open from 10am it`s best to get there early to choose a yukata in your favourite colour and design. A member of staff can help you if you are not sure how to wear the yukata correctly.

 

A view of Bechin-kan

A view of Bechin-kan

 

Yukata Kurokawa style

Yukata Kurokawa style

 

Looking for somewhere to leave your bags while you stroll around town? For day-trippers with large bags there are coin lockers available near the Visitor Center as well as near the highway bus stop (near Cosmos gas station). For only ¥500 you can probably fit two suitcases in the largest size locker.

 

Coin lockers near Cosmos (No Parking!)

Coin lockers near Cosmos (No Parking!)

 

One important update is that Nanjyoen (名城苑) Ryokan,which was damaged in the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes reopened on April 15th after a major renovation that has taken three years, and is accepting bookings from the 18th. I`m looking forward to having a look around the newly-renovated inn and trying the baths soon!

 

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View of Nanjyoen Ryokan from the Visitor Center car park

 

….and finally for today, I just love the Kurokawa style bus stops!

 

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One of the prettiest bus stops around..

 

 

 

Autumn 2018 update…

Once again it’s my favourite season here in Kyushu,not too hot and not too cold…with mostly clear skies and colorful autumn leaves all around. Kurokawa is no exception,autumn colours providing a beautiful backdrop to any onsen hopping you may choose to indulge in this season. Onsen-hopping passes are still a bargain at ¥1300 a go ,allowing you to try three different  public outdoor baths in Kurokawa within a 6-month period.

 

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River view near Yumerindo

 

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View of entrance to Noshiyu

 

Sadly the main  event of the year in Kurokawa,a Thanksgiving festival in early October was cancelled due to the approach of a large typhoon. Since we are well into autumn now,a recommended activity for this time of year is to try one of the three hiking routes in and around Kurokawa,all starting from near the Visitor Center. Maps in English should be available from the Visitor Center,which has recently had a facelift!  Still a rather small space….but do pop in and see if Aoi is there at the information desk,she speaks excellent English and is willing to chat and offer advice.

 

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Entrance to recently refurbished Visitor Center

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Welcoming smiles from Aoi at the Information Desk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within Visitor Center opening hours you may also use this recently installed Money Exchange machine for changing your home currency into Japanese yen .*please note this is not an ATM ,you still need to visit a bank in the neighbouring town of Oguni,or the Family Mart in Minami Oguni for those!

 

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Money Exchange inside the Visitor Center

 

Finally,in this update a reminder to look out for the bamboo illuminations in Kurokawa from the end of December….quite a breathtaking sight along the river after on a winter’s evening.