Kurokawa Onsen

Kurokawa Onsen is a quintessential hot-spring town in central Kyushu, approximately a 90-minute drive from Kumamoto Airport. Having traveled extensively throughout Japan, I can truly say that my visit to Kurokawa was one of my most memorable stays.

What makes Kurokawa Onsen unique is its traditional atmosphere and abundance of nice, traditional ryokan inns. During our visit, we stayed at Noshiyu, which is one of the best-value inns that I have had the pleasure of staying at in Japan. Beautiful architecture, wonderful service and excellent food make it one of my all-time favorites.

Unlike most Japanese onsen towns that are dominated by concrete structures, Kurokawa, with its beautiful wooden buildings and earthen walls, is reminiscent of a bygone era. Dressed in lightweight yukata kimono, we strolled through the town and along the river that runs through it, stopping at whichever inns struck our fancy to enjoy their soothing baths.

Kurokawa is known for its abundance of picturesque rotenburo outdoor baths, and I was not disappointed. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the various inns’ bathing spots, and the process is made easy through the use of a pass, which allows bathers access to three inns of their choice.

Winter is an ideal time to visit Kurokawa Onsen, as the cool, crisp Kyushu air, together with a relaxing outdoor bath in a delightful environment, will make for an unforgettable trip.

Philip Rosenfeld

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