A trip to Japan is not complete if you don’t get naked and take a plunge into one (or many) of its scalding-hot volcanic springs, or better said in Japanese, an onsen. To have a traditional Japanese experience, your Japanese “bucket list” should also include a stay in a ryokan – a type of traditional Japanese Inn. Now imagine, how great if you could combine both?
Travelling in Japan is fantastic, but also quite exhausting. So recharging our batteries was the right thing to do before heading back to the Netherlands.
We found the ultimate place relax at Takaragawa Onsen, a hot spring and ryokan surrounded by mountains, which is often pointed as best onsen in Japan.
The onsen is located in the foothills of the Japanese Alps. Getting there takes about 90 minutes from Tokyo to Jomo-Kogen Station by Shinkansen, and the hotel provides a free shuttle service – very convenient and hassle-free.
One of the great things about this onsen is that its indoor and outdoor baths are opened 24hrs a day! This means that, if you are a nighthawk or an early bird, you can (almost) have the baths all for your self. You have no idea how relaxing was bathing by night! Also, they offer a mixed gender and female only baths, which is a plus if you are travelling with your partner.
Swim clothing are not allowed in the baths. Women will get bathing clothes – a little brown dress, and men a small white towel to cover their front. We hope you don’t mind seeing some naked butts.
We’ve picked the Japanese-Style room with private bathroom and toilet and river view. “Japanese-Style” means that the room is not decorated with table and chairs as we know if but a chabudai – short-legged table and two zaisu – a Japanese chair with no legs but a standard chair back. In the afternoon the staff comes to rearrange the room, replacing the table and chairs for a comfortable futon bedding. Woven-straw tatami and shoji sliding screens, which open to a relaxing seating area with river views, complete the serene Japanese interior.
Although we chose a room with a private bathroom, we did shower once in the shared bathroom for the experience. 😉
Takaragawa also offers yukata robes (or summer kimonos) for you to use during your stay as well as slippers.
Takaragawa offers a very complete and delicious Japanese and Western breakfast and dinner buffet. We upgraded one of the dinners of our stay to a kaiseki multi-course dinner, served at a private dining room. It was so worth it, and It’s safe to say that it was one of our best meals in Japan! The dinner included, among others, sukiyaki, crispy seafood and veggies tempura with green tea salt, grilled fish, udon noodles, Japanese pickles, and of course, sashimi. This all accompanied by a microbrewed sake and Asahi.
Stay more than one night here. It’s absolutely worth it! We realised that most of the people (not to say everyone!) come only for one night, and that’s a pity. As everybody checked out in the morning and left, we had the baths ENTIRELY for ourselves until the next bus arrived around three in the afternoon. Plus, you achieve total relaxation after minimum two days floating on its stone bottoms baths, sleeping to the sound of a running river stream, and indulging yourself with delicious food!
We will definitely revisit Takaragawa Onsen on our next visit to Japan!
Ps.: A huge thanks to our best friends Angela and Misja for surprising us during our stay! They stayed there a few days before us and left a package containing some Japanese treats as well as these beautiful silk kimonos that we wore during our private dinner. It made our stay in Takaragawa even more special and unforgettable!