Ikoi Ryokan (いこい旅館 11 on the printed English guide map) is an established, centrally-located inn very popular with Korean tourists,but luckily when my friend and I visited the baths today it was lunchtime and we had the baths almost to ourselves.
Lots of corridors, paths ,signs and stairs later we managed to find the women`s bathing area,also known as `Bijin-yu` (beauty bath) which is described as one of the top 100 hot spring baths in Japan.
A word of warning….the women`s rocky pool bath down the steps was the hottest hot spring I have ever tried and although I wanted to get in quickly because it was cold, I could only lower myself in very slowly and gradually. A sign ,in English, warned that the water pouring into the pool was `boiling`,it certainly felt like it! Later,I found it much more comfortable to sit at the edge of the standing bath where the temperature was more like a normal bath. I must have missed the sign here (as well as the step) but this was also the deepest standing bath I have ever tried (in fact, come to think of it,probably too deep for most Japanese ladies of average height to stand up in comfortably!). Hold onto the bamboo grips at the side,and mind your step!
Feeling warmed and beautified after our dip we had a little bit of an explore and found there are several private baths here for rental for 800yen/adult/ 40 minute slot and also bathing areas which are only for use by the hotel guests. As far as onsen-hopping is concerned it is probably the men who get the better deal here as they may use three different baths, `Takino-yu` (waterfall massage) ,`Utase-yu` and `Hako-yu` (wooden indoor bath) AND apparently the large outdoor men`s bath is also for mixed bathing. (I must admit I`m never quite sure….and not being a fan of mixed public bathing….. I`ll give it a miss for today).
We also had a look around the Inn entrance area,where there are Onsen eggs going for 50yen each,a foot bath if you haven`t yet had enough of bathing and a cosy seating area around a hearth where you can have a rest before continuing on your way.
In summary….hottest and deepest
Would I visit again? ONE day I will be brave, return with my husband and try the large mixed bath
Staff: Yes,very little English.