Kumamoto: Kurokawa Onsen Area
One of Japan’s most charming hot spring towns, Kurokawa Onsen lies to the east of Kumamoto City within Aso-Kuju National Park. Through the active involvement of the local community, Kurokawa retains much of its historic charm and has been spared the unsympathetic developed often experienced in ‘onsen’ (hot spring towns throughout the country). Many older buildings remain while traditional materials including earthen walls and paved laneways are favoured throughout Kurosawa, imbuing the entire town with a tranquil and seductive quality. Located high in the national park and in the brooding shadow of Mount Aso – an active volcano – Kurokawa feels isolated from the modern world, a place where you can truly relax, unwind and indulge the senses.
There is plenty of accommodation to choose from in Kurokawa Onsen including high-end ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), large to mid-sized hotels and smaller, family-run guesthouses. Most if not all have their own in-house hot springs with those located outside of the town centre offering the best views. The towns picturesque laneways are lined with ryokan, cafes, shops and of course, public bathhouses. The town also features two small public bathhouses which can be used for JPY200 each, or for JP1300, you can purchase a wooden ‘tegata’ pass which allows you to use the baths of any three ryokan you choose.