Tag Archive | onsen

Takaragawa Onsen

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.

From Takaragawa onsen – winter

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?

From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter

And they also have real live bears, as you do!

From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter

They currently have 7 bears as stated in the sign above.
…but I reckon there used to be eight….

From Takaragawa onsen – winter

The rotemburo baths looked very pretty in the snow:

From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter

My sixth sense says: I see naked people.

From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter

Upstream, along the river:

From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter
From Takaragawa onsen – winter

Tanigawadake Hike and Takaragawa Mixed Onsen

One of the things I told myself I would do more of last year was do more hiking. Autumn is the best season for hiking in Japan because the weather is a lot cooler and the colours of the leaves are pretty at that time of year.

I don’t hike a lot, so this one was quite a tough one for me. It was a long, steep, rocky hike, but the view and landscape was pretty spectacular. Didn’t start off that way though.

From Tanigawadake hike

This was the Tanigawadake hike that I did last October (yes, a little overdue, I know).
It first required taking the cable car:

From Tanigawadake hike

The leaves were just starting to change colour:

From Tanigawadake hike

Conditions at the hiking start point did not look good. Not good at all. How is this for visibility:

From Tanigawadake hike

Trail was a bit muddy and wet too:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

The fog cleared a bit and we were on our way:

From Tanigawadake hike

Once we got closer to the top it was very picturesque. When I wasn’t sweating and panting away, I managed to get in a few photos. Ok, so more than a few photos.

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

It got steeper and steeper. Not entirely sure if this was meant to be a hike or a rock climb!

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

In amongst the clouds:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

You would have thought we were climbing Fuji!

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

We were up pretty high:

From Tanigawadake hike

There were even some small patches of snow. And this was October!

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

More climbing. Still not yet at the summit:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

Stunning scenery:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

I finally reached one of the lower peaks (there was still the upper peak as well):

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

I think I’m in heaven:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

The trail of people:

From Tanigawadake hike

What goes up, must come down. Coming back down is worse than going up. And going up was no picnic.

From Tanigawadake hike

A beast of a mountain:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

After a hardcore hike, we totally deserved an onsen. And we went to a really awesome. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this onsen. It’s a mixed outdoor onsen. There’s about 4 outdoor baths and all are mixed (there is one female-only onsen). This is one of the very rare mixed public onsens in Japan (no cossies allowed). You are allowed to rent a towel to wear into the hot springs though. Most of the ladies covered up with a towel (as I did), but be warned, that a lot of the men there won’t be so modest. The hot spring is a secluded location built across a river and there’s also a really nice ryokan you can stay at there.

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

A very cool onsen:

From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike
From Tanigawadake hike

This is Takaragawa onsen for the record. Definitely want to come back to this place. Lots of different rotemburos to enjoy so long as you don’t mind being surrounded by naked people (towels are optional. Although I am glad I am not too much fatter than what I am because they towels on offer wouldn’t have covered all of me! Just something to keep in mind, if you’re on the bigger side).

February Long Weekend: Yugawara Onsen

Every weekend should be a long weekend. Makes the working week so much more bearable.
Last weekend was one such long weekend and a friend’s birthday so it was a perfect excuse for an onsen weekend with friends at Yugawara onsen (only 1.5 hours away from Tokyo).

This is how you ride the train in style – with champagne in hand:

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

We stayed at a really nice ryokan. I thought these silhouettes were cool.

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

Some gourmet food:

Sashimi and edible flowers:

From Yugawara onsen

Appetisers – had romanesca for the first time. Romanesca is basically the lovechild of broccoli and cauliflower.

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

Yugawara onsen:

From Yugawara onsen

It was a leisurely weekend of food, champagne and onsens. And we spent two nights there, which was rather indulgent of us. I have to make the most of long weekends this year (have very little annual leave up my sleeve).

Giant amao strawberries:

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen