Sep 16, 2010

Useful Site : Selected Onsen Ryokan

Kinki Nippon Tourist, the second biggest travel agent in Japan launched new web site "Selected Onsen Ryokan" (日式温泉旅館) in four languages, five types targeting visitors from Asian countries in early September.

You can search suitable ryokans for you by checking "Ryokans for families", "Ryokans for couples" "Ryokan providing local foodstuff" Ryokan in Japan's best 10 hot spring resorts" and etc. Check it out!



Simplified Chinese (Mainland China)

Traditional Chinese (Hong Kong)

Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)

Sep 9, 2010

Jizaikan, Tochiomata Onsen, Niigata Pref.

The Shita-no-yu is located just above the fountain head and the onsen water is fresh. I soaked myself two and half hours here.

There are three ryokans at Tochiomata Onsen(栃尾又温泉) in mountainous part of Niigata Pref. The Jizaikan(自在館) has longest history among them of more than 400 years. The Tochiomata Onsen itself was discovered about 1200 years ago.

The Jizaikan is recommendable for onsen beginners as the radium hot springs they supply aren't too hot at 35-40°C, and there are private baths you can share with your group or yourself. But at the same time, their bath sharing system is so complicated.

Guest room for solo traveler. While having supper at a dining room, they get Futon mat ready for sleep.

There are five baths altogether. The Uketsu-no-yu is private open-air-bath, available 40 minutes for each group. You need to book for its use at the front desk.

Two indoor baths, Usagi-no-yu & Tanuki-no-yu are also private baths during daytime, also 40 minute for each group, but turn to gender separated baths from 10PM through nights.

The private bath "Uketsu-no-yu" supplies newer hot springs. Available 5:00AM to 0:00AM for 40 minuites each time on booking basis.

Other two baths are communal baths. Guests of three ryokans of Tochiomata Onsen share these two baths, the Ue-no-yu (Upper bath), and the Shita-no-yu Lower bath). The Shita-no-yu is the best among the five, located just above fountainhead. It's open for ladies from 5:00AM to 3:00PM then for men from 3:30 PM to 11:PM. You can soak yourself in Ue-no-yu at other times. A few hours soaking is recommended. Onsen of Ue-no-yu and Shita-no-yu are drinkable.

Typical ryokan supper (left) and breakfast (right). Honestly I wasn't impressed.

They don't accept "soaking only" day visit. You have to stay overnight or choose "lunch and soak" course starting ¥2,725.

◆Jizaikan, Tochiomata Onsen (栃尾又温泉自在館)

Type: Four gender separated indoor baths (two of them turn private bath from late night till moring), one private open-air bath

Address: Kami-oritate, Uonuma-city, Niigata Pref.

Location: 37.185173, 139.086066

Business hour: check in 1:00PM check out 11:00AM

Room charge: Starts ¥11,280 per night per person (including supper and breakfast, all taxes) If you choose "lunch and soak" day visit plan, it costs ¥2,725 or ¥4,875 or ¥6,975 depending the lunch menu you choose. Advance booking necessary for both.

Tanuki-no-yu (left) and Usagi-no-yu (right). The Tanuki-no-yu is for mens and the Usagi-no-yu is for ladies from 10:30PM till 8:00AM. They are available as private bath from 8:20AM to 10:30PM.

Access: Free shuttle service from Urasa station of Joetsu Shinkansen line twice a day. Advance booking necessary. Regular route bus service is availavle from tte Koide Station of Joetsu Line. It takes about 30 minutes costing ¥400 one way.

Link: Official web site (in Japanese only)

My rating (A - E): B

Schejule chart for bath use (Hey! I'm not joking). From the top; Ue-no-yu, Shita-no-yu, Tanuki-no-yu, Usagi-no-yu, and Ukezu-no-yu. Orange shows ladies'bath, green is men's and light yellow is private bath. White shows unavailable time. All soakers are very punctual. (^^;

Recent Updates

[1] Roads to two of the wild onsens in Beppu, Nabeyama-no-yu, and Hebin-yu closed down after a 28-year-old-lady was attacked and killed on Aug. 31, 2010. She was supposed to be visiting the Nabeyama-no-yu alone with her car after getting dark. The murder suspect arrested in August 2011.

As for Nabeyama-no-yu, one of my most favorite onsens, see my post "Nabeyama-no-yu, Beppu City, Oita Pref." dated Feb. 28, 2010.

[2] The classical Ryokan Inaba in Ito Onsen, Shizuoka Pref. reopened as backpackers' hostelK's House Ito Onsen on August 1. 2010. See my post "Old ryokan reopen as hostel, Ito Onsen Shizuoka Pref. " dated Apr.10, 2009.