Looking at the small and unimposing entrance directly off Shimokawabata Dori in the centre of Kurokawa Onsen you might almost decide to give the baths at Ryokan Yamanoyu (旅館やまの湯,number 17 on the English onsen-hopping map) a miss….
But if you are in the center of town and looking for a quick and quiet dip this is the ideal stop,if you don’t mind steps.I found it quite intriguing that after taking the elevator to the 4th floor there was a corridor,then a flight of steps,then another…
So by the time I reached the actual outdoor baths ,which are quiet,compact and secluded ,I was fairly high up ,tucked away on the hillside. Hence the name ‘Yamanoyu’,which literally means ‘mountain bath’.
Facilities were basic yet adequate,and at 10:30 on a rainy weekday morning I had the place to myself. The mildly acidic (tanjyunsen) spring water was just the right temperature,and not too hot for the lingering humidity and heat of September…hooray,autumn is finally just around the corner!
In summary……lots of steps
Would I visit again? Yes,for a quiet and central dip
Staff: Polite,but all communication in Japanese (and very few English signs,you may get lost….)