Onsen-hop #19 Okyakuya

Unusually it took three goes today to find an outdoor bath that was open….two others that I still haven`t got round to trying  were both closed for cleaning,although this wasn`t mentioned on the `Daily Onsen Updates` page of the Kurokawa Ryokan Association English website. So…by the time I decided on Okyakuya (御客屋 12 on the English guide map) I was cold,damp and ready to warm up in the bath on this dull,rainy afternoon. It`s quite easy to find,central and just a stone`s throw from Ikoi Ryokan.



Entrance to Okyakuya


Sign explaining that outdoor baths are swapped round once a day.















Once again a maze of stairs and corridors led down to the outdoor bathing area,which is situated very close to the river but doesn`t open onto it directly as in Yamamizuki. A member of staff led me downstairs to the bath ( popping up again just after I`d finished) helpfully showing me the way while explaining that the outdoor baths are swapped over every day at midday. The women`s bath at this time of day was designated as the smaller iron-rich rocky pool (luckily for me it was also partially roofed so I didn`t get rained on) while the men`s bath was the larger one up a further flight of steps.




Rocky bath with iron-rich waters…


Up the steps to the men`s bath (swapped over at midday).















The outdoor bath was simple ,but pleasant and not too hot. An indoor bath with an area for showering also offered various shampoos and body soaps. Signs in Japanese in the outdoor bath explained that showering after a bath is not necessary as it washes off the beneficial hot spring deposits on the skin, so I went home smelling rather earthy and metallic!



No need to shower after a dip (left) and soap is not provided here out of consideration for the environment,particularly the river nearby (right).




Actually…this establishment really likes signs….image

but you can still get lost!











One very important sign on the wall in the outdoor bath explains that there has been an onsen here for over three hundred years,making it the oldest in Kurokawa. Obviously the building is a lot more recent,but the beautiful wooden corridors and stairs certainly give it an air of times gone by.




Hope he enjoyed his bath…













In summary……historical

Would I visit again?  Yes,to try the larger outdoor bath next time.

Staff: Attentive,spoke some English.






Onsen-hop # 9 `Iyashinosato Kiyashiki’

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.



This way please...

This way please…..





….and down the steps…


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!



Hidden entrance to mixed bath,but mind your head on the way!


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.