A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to go back to Takaragawa Onsen, one of the coolest onsens in Japan. I went there last summer for the first time after a hiking trip. Let me refresh your memory here.
We stopped en-route here after a snowboarding trip a couple of weeks ago.
This time got to experience the onsen in the winter. There’s nothing like an onsen after a day on the slopes.
Takaragawa Onsen is supposedly Japan’s largest rotemburo/outdoor natural hot springs.
It indeed boasts 4 or 5 outdoor onsen baths. All of them are outdoors (there are no indoor baths here) and they are set alongside a river down in a valley. And yes, this includes doing a nudey run across a bridge to reach the hot springs on the other side! Just don’t slip and fall!
The onsen is quite traditional, in that there are no washing areas. Unlike most onsens where you are required to clean and shower before enter the communal bath, here there are no such facilities. You throw a bucket of water over yourself to rinse before plunging into the bath.
And oh, the other thing I should probably mention is that it is a mixed gender hot spring. There is however one single-sex bath and that is for women only. They do however provide large bath towels which you are allowed to cover yourself in and then immerse yourself into the onsen. At all other onsens, bringing towels into the bath is a big no-no. Most women tend to cover up here although they can choose not to. Men on the otherhand opt to go a la naturale here. Although some men will cover up in towels. But don’t expect them to. But given the freezing conditions, they would have been wise to 😉
The place itself is a little bizarre, requiring you to walk through a tunnel resembling a garden shed of dubious looking weapons and artefacts?
And they also have real live bears, as you do!
They currently have 7 bears as stated in the sign above.
…but I reckon there used to be eight….
The rotemburo baths looked very pretty in the snow:
My sixth sense says: I see naked people.
Upstream, along the river: