Sep 28, 2009

500 yen rice bowls at the Hakodate Morning Market

This post is unrelated to onsen.

If you travel Hakodate, Hokkaido on a tight budget, why don't you try one of the "500 yen don" or 500 yen rice bowls at the morning market just next to the Hakodate Railway Station?

There are many restaurants to serve fresh seafood at the market, and I found a place serving a bowl of rice topped with fresh seafood for just 500 yen among other places charging nearly or more than 2000 yen.

Gomoku or Mix don (upper left); Salmon roe don (upper right); Crab meat don (lower left); the restaurant, Ekini Shijo located upper floor (lower right)

I think you'll like them if you like sushi. There is no menu in English, but Japanese menu carries pictures of each rice bowl, so you can order just pointing a picture. Served with miso soup and pickles. Opens 6:30 AM till 2:30 PM everyday.

Sep 23, 2009

Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen, Hakodate City, Hokkaido

Onsen Soaker in lukewarm Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen. (photo: Sep. 2009 courtesy of Hijiribaba-san)

There are many onsens in wild settings in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of four major islands in Japan. The Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen(水無海浜温泉) in east of Hakodate City (函館市) is one of them.

The transparent sodium hot spring is spouting at the sea shore and mixed with sea water in the pool. You have to choose right time to soak just like the Jinata Onsen of Shikinejima in Tokyo, because high tide submerge it under sea.

I visited there a little bit too early after high tide, the temperature of the water was less than 30°C, perfect for swimming but too cold for bathing, felt like soaking myself in a tide pool.

An old couple in swim swuites approaches the onsen. There are some more bath-like pools around there.

There is no restriction on clothing, you can soak in your birthday suites or swim suites as you like. In the mid summer most of the visitors wear swim suites.

Sep 15, 2009

Recommendable Onsen Ranking - JTB survey

A view near Hakone Yumoto Station. It's difficult to choose a typical Hakone picture as there are various types of onsen there. (photo: May 2007, courtesy of my husband)

The most recommendable onsen in Japan is Hakone Onsen, in Kanagawa Pref, Kanto Region - a recent online survey by the JTB, a leading Japanese travel company reveals.

You can't miss the Yubatake (hot spring filed) when you visit second ranked Kusatsu Onsen. (photo: Dec.2003)

The survey was conducted in early Aug, collected 1254 polls. Asked about "most recommendable onsen to others", 103 respondents picked Hakone. It's popular mainly because of easy access from Tokyo. Actually, it's within a day trip distance from Tokyo, and there are various types of onsen like public baths for local residents, an onsen amusement park, and so many ryokans and hotels scattered in wide area.

Sep 3, 2009

Recent Updates

[1] Funsenchi of Gero Onsen, Gifu Pref. has changed dramatically. It's surrounded with primitive walls now, and all soakers regardless gender and age are required to wear swimsuites. Swimsuites bathing is in transition period now and obligatetory from Feb. 1, 2010 (I think if we have to wear swimsuites, walls aren't necessary). See my post "Funsenchi, Gero Onsen, Gifu Pref." dated Jan.17, 2009.

[2] After the DPJ's landslide victory over LDP at the general election last weekend, future of the Kawarayu Onsen, Gunma Pref. gets unpredictable, as the DPJ has promised to suspend construction of Yamba Dam, which was going to submarge the Kawarayu Onsen.

The Yamba Dam construction plan first made public about 60 years ago. Residents of the Kawarayu Onsen accepted the plan in 2001 after severe opposition activities against it for several decades, and before the recent election, they were supposed to move alternative site "New Kawarayu Onsen" in a few years. See my post "Kawarayu Onsen, Gunma Pref. (1)" dated Jan. 24, 2009.

[3] Added how to go to the Kita Onsen, Tochigi Pref. by public transportation. See my post " Kita Onsen Ryokan, Tochigi Pref." dated Mar. 6, 2009

Sep 1, 2009

Kaede no Yu, Yudanaka Onsen, Nagano Pref.

This is a very convenient onsen for those traveling by train. This Kaede no Yu(楓の湯) in Yudanaka Onsen(湯田中温泉), Nagano Pref. sits next to the Yudanaka Station. Actually, it utilizes formar station building.

It's a typical Japanese day-visit onsen. There are gender separated indoor and open-air baths. The open-air baths are small and surrounded by walls with hardly any view except sky.

Yudanaka is the entrance point to Jigokudani, and the Kaede no Yu is usually desparately crowded in the winter especially on the weekends with tourists after vising Jigokudani to see famous snow monkeys.

The hot spring is water added, so it isn't that hot compared with small public baths in Yudanaka Onsen. Recommandable for first timers.

◆Kaede no Yu, Yudanaka Onsen (湯田中温泉 楓の湯)

Type: Gender separated. Indoor and open-air baths. Day visit only.

Address: Yudanaka Onsen, Ymanouchi-machi, Simotakai-gun, Nagano Pref.

Location: 36.741859,138.414862

Business hour: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (last entry 8:30 PM)

Holiday: First Tuesday every month (If national holiday falls on, following day)

Admission fee: ¥300

Equipment: Rockers, complementary soap and shampoo. A foot bath outside (see picture below) is free of charge.

Access: Fom Nagano Station, take Nagano Dentetsu to Yudanaka Station. Yudanaka is the terminal station, taking about 45 minutes from Nagano by express train. Nagano Dentetsu is a private company different from JR, they don't accept Japan Rail Pass, and the Nagano station is separated at the underground level.

Tips: If you make a day trip to Yudanaka, juts buy "Kaede no Yu coupon" at the station. At the Nagano Station, it costs ¥1500. You can make round trip between Nagano and Yudanaka and also enter the Kaede no Yu with this ticket. If you buy the train ticket each time, it costs ¥1,130 oneway adding ¥100 if you take an express train.

My rating (out of five): 3

A local train at Yudanaka Station.

An express train at Yudanaka Station. The leftside building is Kaede no Yu.