Another Friday afternoon,another outdoor onsen …..this week I chose to pop back to visit one I had noticed towards the end of my hike around Kurokawa earlier this month on the outskirts of town. `Iyashinosato Kiyashiki’ (いやしの里樹やしき 20 on the English Map) not an easy name to pronounce,and perhaps not any easy place to find as I almost missed the entrance while I was concentrating on driving along the very narrow,winding road. This would be a pleasant walk from the town center,15 minutes or so on foot alongside a small river,but do watch out for traffic.
Kiyashiki Inn covers quite a large area,so first you need to go to the reception upstairs in the main building and show your onsen-hopping pass to a member of staff who will then point you in the right direction for the outdoor baths.
Kiyashiki is one of the 6 or so outdoor baths( of the 24 belonging to the Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association) to offer mixed bathing and today the women- only bath is on the right and the larger men`s bath is on the left. (At certain times of day the baths are switched,so check the sign before entering!) After getting changed,women may then either bathe separately or access the mixed bath by way of a secret tunnel …I found this intriguing,but I chose to stay put in the women`s bath today!
The bath was rocky and enclosed, with the water appearing. slightly cloudy and not too hot . Later I noticed a sign in the changing room asking for bathers to kindly accept the inevitable presence of various insect visitors during the warmer months,and in particular to look out for the odd horsefly and wasp,but it wasn`t a problem on this warm May afternoon when,once again, I had the entire bath to myself. If you are planning on trying onsen-hopping in Kurokawa it really is worth going at the quieter times of a weekday,if not early in the morning then at least early afternoon before 3pm or so when a lot of tour groups and visitors arrive to check in.
Part of the bathing area available for use by visitors at Kiyashiki includes a spacious indoor bath,with a wash area complete with soap, shampoo and conditioner. Toilets however,as I usually find out too late,are in a separate building…
In summary…..peaceful,and offering mixed bathing
Would I visit again? Yes,with my other half next time to explore the larger mixed bath.
Staff: Very little English,but helpful and some basic signs in English.