Translated by Kayoko Windle
Kumamoto's Amazing Kurokawa Onsen - Access, Hot Spring Inns And More!
Written by Yumiko Delor
Surrounded by beautiful nature, Kurokawa Onsen in the mountain area of Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, has charming town views and great outdoor hot springs and baths. This article is all about Kurokawa Onsen, one of the best hot springs in Japan.
Kurokawa Onsen - Famous Hot Springs in Kumamoto
'Taki no yu' from Ikoi Ryokan (Photo courtesy of: Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association)
Each ryokan, or Japanese style hotel, has different charming outdoor hot springs, which show you amazing mountain scenery and flowing streams. This area is rare in that there are six different kinds of hot spring, and you can see the color of water changing depending on the hot spring and time of day.
Let's go to Kurokawa Onsen, one of the popular hot springs in Japan, that is famous for soothing one's body and mind.
Hot Spring Properties and Effects
’Moyai no yu’ from Ryokan Sanga (Photo courtesy of: Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association)
There are six main kinds of hot springs in Kurokawa Onsen: mildly acidic simple springs to relieve fatigue and stress, mildly alkaline simple springs for smooth skin, sulfur springs to detox and improve diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, hydrogen carbonate springs for beautiful skin, chloride springs for heat insulation and temperature control, and sulfate springs effective in improving high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
As each ryokan has different hot spring properties, please check with the ryokan before you visit.
How to Get to Kurokawa Onsen
Photo courtesy of: Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association
The Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association recommends using either your own or a rental car to most conveniently access Kurokawa Onsen as it is in a mountainous area. However, let's take a look at public transportation too.
Access from Toyko and Osaka
Flights are the best recommendation for those coming from Tokyo or Osaka to Fukuoka Airport, which has the most frequent flights, or Kumamoto Airport, and then transferring to Kurokawa Onsen by bus. For access from Tokyo or Osaka to Fukuoka and Kumamoto, please take a look at 'Ways to Travel From Tokyo To Fukuoka! A Thorough Comparison', 'How To Travel From Osaka To Fukuoka', and 'How To Reach Kumamoto From Tokyo And Other Regions In Japan'.
Access from Fukuoka
There are four buses a day from Nishitetsu Tenjin Bus terminal through Hakata Station bus terminal and Fukuoka International Airport to Kurokawa Onsen (*reservation is required). It takes two hours and 40 minutes from Fukuoka Airport and the fare is 3090 yen for a one-way ticket (a round trip ticket discount is available).
Access from Kumamoto
There are two buses a day from Kumamoto airport to Yufuin Station or Beppu Station through Kumamoto Station. It takes two hours and a half hours and the fare is 1750 yen one way.
Kurokawa Onsen Day Trip Spots
'Mori no yu' from Ryokan Kou no yu (Photo courtesy of Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association)
Kurokawa Onsen sells 'Nyuyoku Tegata', or an 'onsen-hopping pass' which allows you to try three different outdoor hot springs. The fee is 1300 yen for an adult and 700 yen for a child. You can purchase it at Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association and at each ryokan's reception desk. Make sure to take advantage of this special deal.
Today, we picked three onsen spots for a day trip. The article has been written without the use of the onsen-hopping pass.
Yama no Yado Shinmeikan
The 30-meter wide cave bath was made by the owner with only a hammer and chisel, putting in his whole heart and soul into the effort, this is a must see in Kurokawa Onsen! Their family bath, 'Kajika no yu', is also available for day trippers (for an additional fee).
Address: Kumamoto, Aso, Mimami-oguni, Manganji 6608
Admission: 500 yen for an adult, 300 yen for a child. 'Kajika no yu (family private bath)' 1500 yen for 40 minutes. (with tax).
Website: Yama no Yado Shinmeikan (Japanese)
Here, you can enjoy the tallest standing bath in Japan. Each bath is an outdoor onsen and the tallest part in the bath is 162 cm for gentlemen, and 130cm for ladies. Enjoy floating in the bath surrounded by a beautiful, natural view.
Address: Kumamoto, Aso, Mimami-oguni, Manganji 6784
Admission: 600 yen for an adult, 300 yen for a child (with tax).
Website: Ryokan Kounoyu
They have no less than 13 baths including 'Taki no yu', which was selected as one of the top 100 great secret hot springs in Japan. For day trippers, they offer seven kinds of bath and four kinds of private baths (an additional fee is required).
Address: Kumamoto, Aso, Mimami oguni, Kurokawa Onsen Kawabata Dori
Admission: 500 yen for an adult, 300 yen for a child, a private bath for 40 minutes: 800 yen per person (with tax).
Website: Ikoi Ryokan
Recommended Ryokan in Kurokawa Onsen
'Momiji no yu' from Fumoto ryokan (Photo courtesy of: Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association)
A luxury ryokan with four outdoor hot springs, nine private baths and 14 guest rooms, three of which have outdoor hot springs. You can enjoy hopping into different baths in a ryokan all the while being amazed by the charms of each bath.
Address: Kumamoto, Aso, Mimami-oguni, Manganji 6697
Website: Fumoto Ryokan (Japanese)
Here, you can try 'Yakushi no yu' and 'Bihada no yu' effective for skin problems. This ryokan has seven baths such as outdoor hot springs and wooden baths stretching over an area of 10,000 square meters. It is a little far away from other hot spring areas, so you can relax here listening to the sound of the gently flowing streams.
Address: Kumamoto, Aso, Mimami oguni, Manganji 6961-1
Website: Ryokan Sanga
Yamaai no yado Yamamizuki
In this ryokan surrounded by beautiful nature, your body and mind will surely be healed by the outdoor hot spring near a stream listening to the murmur of the water. All of Kurokawa Onsen's ryokan have great reviews, but this ryokan has an especially great reputation.
Address: Kumamoto, Aso, Mimami oguni, Manganji 6392-2
Website: Yamaai no yado Yamamizuki
How to Enjoy Kurokawa Onsen
'Yuakari' (Photo courtesy of: Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association)
The 'Kappo tegata', or 'Kappo pass' (1500 yen) is a great offer, which let you buy 3 kinds of local sake, or shochu, and small snacks at ryokan, shops, and restaurants in Kurokawa Onsen.
During the winter event 'Yuakari', you can enjoy romantic and dreamy town views illuminated with bamboo lanterns. The event schedule is subject to change year to year, so please check with the official webpage for details.
Kurokawa Onsen is 700m high and it is still cool in the deep summer. In winter the snow will pile up in the area, so please make sure to prepare for the cold.
Also, for advice on how to take a hot spring in Japan, please take a look at Bath Culture In Japan: What Every Visitor Should Know Ahead Of Time to fully enjoy your onsen experience.
** Please note that times and fares indicated in this article are from the official websites and are accurate as of May 2017. This information is subject to change.