Monday, January 7, 2008

Oouchijuku - Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima

Map Location

This is a historic Japanese village.

Its not far from Aizuwakamatsu. Some people arrived by taxi, I'm guessing from the nearby railway station.

It was just a little bit busy when we were there, but not overly crowded.

At least in winter the houses were mostly pretty closed up to keep the cold out. We'd recommend going into one of the restaurants to eat since they are nicely decorated inside aswell. Perhaps in summer you can see inside more easily.


There is a hill behind the town where you can go to get a view over the town.

To no Hetsuri, Fukushima

Map Location

This is a very pretty little river walk just south of Aizuwakamatsu. Its not far from the train line which looks like a very nice way to see the area.



Tatenoyu Minshuku, Fukushima

Map Location very roughly! Our car navigation system could find it when we entered the phone number 0241-68-2648, you can book at their website Tatenoyu.

This is a very nice little hotel in Fukushima about 2 hours from Nasushiobara. Its our first Minshuku so we cant compare too well. But in absolute terms it is very good.

I'm not totally sure what the difference between a Minshuku and a Ryokan is, but I think its the fact that Minshuku are family run. This one is run by an extended family.

We went in early January and there was quite a bit of snow, but it was never difficult driving.

The room was good, with a nice view of the snowy surroundings. The onsen was good. Pretty with nice views of the mountains. Dinner was fantastic! There was a little beef hotpot at our table sashimi, unagi custard, barbequed fish (cooked in the room), fish soup (serve yourself from the pot cooking over the fire), many excellent little vegetable dishes including a sensational mashed potato and seemingly never ending tempura coming one piece at a time. It was a lot of food and it was very good. (my suggestion, and I know what I'm talking about here, don't eat two bowls of rice early in the meal!). They grow all their own vegetables and it shows, they were excellent.




There was karaoke after dinner, but all the guests, including us disappeared quickly when it started leaving the host family to sing (for a short while).

This would be a great place to stay when visiting Aizuwakimatsu, which is just a short way north. Locally, you can visit the excellent Oouchijuku and To no Hetsuri. There are other attractions in the area that we did not get to.

And the best think of all about our night at this place? The whole thing cost 8000 yen each for a couple! This place is thoroughly recommended.

Tanakaya Onsen - Shiobara, Tochigi

Map Location


This is a fantastic onsen. If you are in the Nasushiobara area for just a short time and you want to go to an onsen this is our pick so far.

Its not so hard to find. The hotel itself is on the way to Shiobara on highway 400. Its not very attractive from the road. There is not much room there due to the very steep valley and the hotel is jammed in behind the road. There is a small parking area. If the parking area is full there is an old disused section of highway 50 meters down the hill where you can park and walk (carefully) up to the hotel.


Go into the hotel and tell them you want an onsen. The price is 800 yen per person. Then you have to walk to the onsen. Across the road from the onsen just up the hill from the carpark there is a small path, leaving the road, going down the hill. The onsen itself is all the way at the bottom of the hill by the river. Its peaceful, quiet, by the river and has great views. There is a private women's onsen, a large public pool that I'm assuming is mixed though I have only ever seen men in it (except for when its very quiet and my wife sneaks in). Then there are two quiet little pools right by the river. The little pools are not so great in my opinion because they are always too hot and too cold though one of them is very "by the river".

This is easily the number one pick for natural beauty onsen.

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.