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Posts tagged onsen

Shirakawago Onsen

白川郷の湯 天然温泉

白川郷の湯

For a different view of the natural wonders of Shirakawago, you can always explore the natural hot springs. With a nice view over the river (lower right portion of this photo), we were the only ones enjoying this spacious onsen.

Kurashita No Yu (onsen in Hakuba)

Yesterday’s post, or at least the part about making friends in an onsen, reminded me of an experience we had in Hakuba back in October. We went to a great onsen called Kurashita No Yu (倉下の湯) near the river.

The reddish-brown, iron-rich waters were soothing and wonderful. The views weren’t bad either, even with a cloudy sky.

But the best part was the company. Ryan and I made friends with a couple of really nice gents from Kanazawa (金沢). We took photos with them, swapped information, were offered their drinks out of the back of their car, and have kept in contact ever since. Ryan has even been invited to come live with them in a home-stay sort of arrangement this summer.

Nikko – Funamiso Hotel (舟見荘)

For our one night in Nikko we decided upon the Funamiso, about 20 minutes away from downtown Nikko on the train (Kosagoe Station 小佐越駅 covered with our Nikko Pass). We were debating between a place right in Nikko (without an onsen but convenient) or a place far from the city (which would have taken more than an hour to get to from Nikko but with a great-looking onsen). The Funamiso seemed like a happy medium. I’m not sure if this place is technically a hotel, ryokan, minshuku, or pension. I suppose it could fit into any of those categories.

Not being a huge fan of seafood, I opted for the no meal plan at Funamiso. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the shabu-shabu dinner, but 7,000 yen each is more than I want to spend on a single dinner no matter how delicious. Waking up to a Japanese breakfast of fish, rice, and vegetables isn’t my cup of tea either. The no meal plan is affordable at 5,000 yen per person.

Funamiso was a bit disappointing from the outside, but once we made it inside everything was great. The place was very clean, the staff was nice, the views were good, and the outdoor part of the onsen was spectacular. Our room was Japanese style so we slept in futon on tatami floors. We had a private bath in the room that looked like it had never been used. We didn’t use it either. Who would when there is a wonderful onsen downstairs? My only complaint is the privacy fence around the outside onsen. It provided very little privacy (not that I cared) and obstructed the view. Lose the fence and this onsen is close to perfection.

The above picture is from the room on the evening we arrived. The steam from the onsen below beckons. Snow had just fallen. A couple of spotlights allowed onsen users to view the snow-covered trees and a little waterfall into the river even after dark. Speaking of users, I was the only user of the male onsen. Funamiso has several dozen rooms, but only three were being used on this weeknight in February. I had the onsen, all three pools, completely to myself each time. I have had fun talking to random Japanese strangers in onsen, but I didn’t get the chance with this onsen basically being private due to a lack of guests.

We arrived at Funamiso at about dusk. The view from our room was more stunning the next morning as the sun rose.

The moon was setting as the sun was rising.

After checking out we went for a walk that took us over two different bridges spanning the Kinu River (鬼怒川).

Would I recommend Ryokan Funamiso? Absolutely.

“Foot Soaking” by guest blogger, Tony Alexander

Foot soaking. One of the quintessential pastimes in Japan, as illustrated in Al’s article ‘Museum foot soak‘ at the Hakone Open Air Museum.

Here one can gain an insight into one of the simplest forms of pleasure in Japan; so in tandem I wanted to also guest blog about another example of foot soaking entitled ‘warming the feet‘ over at The Soul of Japan.

Like Al, I have a penchant for fine pleasure. We both understand what it feels like to be on our feet all day and then relax in a hot open air foot bath surrounded by nature. The only thing you have to remove is your socks; that’s it. And of course it’s good to carry a small hand towel with you. I also recommend a nice Tenugui, a large Japanese style handkerchief which can fit neatly into one’s purse or pocket.

There are foot baths all over Japan, so whenever you have a chance knock your socks off.

Museum foot soak

I’ve mentioned before that if you ever do the Hakone Loop you may want to do it in the reverse direction as that usually directed in the guidebooks. Counterclockwise will usually get you fewer crowds, possibly better views of Mt. Fuji, and, perhaps best of all, a foot soak at the end, instead of the beginning, of your day.

If the above picture doesn’t look like heaven to you then you should walk around all day first. Then take a look. See what I mean?

This foot soak onsen can be found in the Hakone Open Air Museum. The price is right (free with admission), and it is perfect for a museum like this that requires a lot of walking to see everything. Come to think of it, every museum should have such a feature.

A man who worked for the museum was handing out towels, putting fruit in the water, and, as you can see in the next picture, he even offers to take your picture if he sees that you have a camera. I’m looking forward to the Japanese level of service again.

There are even some “doctor fish” in the onsen which provide a little fish therapy to your aching feet.

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