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.
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!
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.
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?