Thursday, December 27, 2007

Omaru Ryokan - Nasu, Tochigi

Map Location

Omaru onsen is our new favorite Ryokan.



We had previously been there for an onsen and decided to book a room for the night. It was a great experience.

We went up there at the end of December and the roads were a bit snowy. But it was no problem getting there at all. The road beyond that point that goes to the top of Mt. Nasu was closed.

Check in time is 2PM. We got there early and had to wait, but it was very pleasant sitting in the waiting area. Check out time is 10AM.

The character of the inn is very appealing. Lots of wood and Japanese decoration. Its a very relaxing, pleasant place. Our room was actually 2 rooms. One for sleeping and one living room. Very comfortable, but, since there are very nice public areas, we spent most of our time outside the room. Even for reading and relaxing.

The onsen is very good. The only negative, the fact that the men's outdoor bath is actually mixed, was really a positive for us since we could bathe outside together. Its quite normal for women to wear a towel wrapped around them, but there are dedicated outdoor women's baths too. They are more beautiful than the mixed area. The pools are big, beautiful and very comfortable.

Dinner was great! The highlight was a fried prawn an tofu cake. But every dish was very good. Breakfast too was good. My favorite part was Nasu milk which was full cream, unhomogenised milk unlike any I have had since I was a kid. The lady serving us was a delight. They had done their homework and had all the courses translated on little cheat sheets for her to announce to us. We bought a bottle of wine with us and they prepared wine glasses and allowed us to drink it with our meal.

The bar was open in the evening with 1/2 an hour of Jazz guitar played by one of the staff which was very good.

Staff at Ryokans are always very welcoming. The people here really went out of their way to make us comfortable. One person there spoke good English.

The total price was 33,250 yen for two people including our cocktails and a bottle of beer we drank while reading our books. Its more than we normally like to pay for Ryokan but it was well worth it. We recommend this onsen for a day visit or for a night away.

More Photos

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sekisho Onsen - Daigo, Ibaraki

Map Location

This is a really nice day onsen near Daigo. If you are going to Fukuroda Falls this is a great place to go for lunch or dinner.


There is a big outside bath with a nice view. This photo is from the mens' side, the womens' side is also great, with an excellent view.


The restaurant is a cut above most day onsens.

Fukuroda Waterfall - Ibaraki, Japan

Map Location

These falls are about an hour East of Nasushiobara in a town called Daigo. Its in Ibaraki prefecture.



These falls are quite famous due to the fact they freeze in winter and are very beautiful. Unfortunately, we went in late December and they weren't yet frozen. We'll go back early next year to view it frozen.



The drive to Daigo features really beautiful winter scenery. As you enter Daigo there are a lot of nice old Japanese buildings too.



The falls are a short walk from the parking area. You walk through a tunnel to get to the falls. There are some steep strenuous paths you can walk along with beautiful views.



There are quite a few well regarded onsens nearby. We recommend Sekisho open onsen for lunch and a soak.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Omaru Onsen, Nasu, Tochigi

Map Location

This is right up the top of Nasu. There are so many good onsens in the area and its hard to compare, but this is a very nice onsen.

Yes, that is snow!

The notable thing about this onsen is the very large outdoor baths and the very elegant interior of the building its in. The men's outdoor bath is actually mixed. The women have their own private outdoor pools too. It costs 1000 yen per person to use the onsen so its a bit more expensive than other places. Its well worth the price though.

We liked it so much we book a night there on Christmas Eve at 15000 yen each for 2 people. So we'll have more details later.

An Yu Le Restaurant - Nasu, Tochigi

Map Location

This is a good Yum Cha (Dim Sum) restaurant in Nasu. It seems to be a sister restaurant of the Cowherd Restaurant which we have not been to yet.

We went for Saturday lunch and it was not at all busy. The interior is very nice. We chose to sit by some big windows, there are areas behind cloth screens and it looked like some private rooms too.

They have a picture menu and you can order various set meals or all you can eat from the menu (3000 yen). They have most of the common Yum Cha items. When they deliver your food, they bring it on a cart and you can choose other items from the cart then too. The quality is very good. We recommend this restaurant.

Oya Temple, Utsunomiya, Tochigi

Map Location

Oya Temple is located a short distance outside Utsunomiya. Its interesting because of the giant statue and the underground caverns.

As you get close you will start seeing shops selling local rock and various builds made out of it. If I had to guess its not very good rock to make things out of because its very light and porous. But the statue is pretty neat and its a good place to visit.

First stop is the statue. If you look closely around the statue you can see areas where big arches have been made and collapsed. Near the statue is a small temple with some nice garden which you must pay a small fee to enter. There is a very old human skeleton that they found in the area on display.

Some distance away is our favorite part. Huge underground caverns made when the excavated rock in the area. Also there is an interesting display where you can compare the local rock with other kinds of rock.

Its a good area for a short visit if you are in Utsunomiya.

More pictures