Takaragawa Onsen - Japan


Sara and I planned to stay at Takaragawa Onsen for our first night in Japan, and with the cold weather and rain we experienced when we landed, we couldn't have been more excited about the hot springs! Getting there from Tokyo Station takes around 3.5 hours with several transfers. However, we ended up missing the second train and with the timing off, we had to take an alternative route with two bus transfers. We stumbled a small town with a gorgeous view near Jomo-Kogen Station before getting on the second bus to the onsen:

We weren't expecting snow on this trip but it made everything so much more beautiful!

Right photo: Shot through the bus window.

Right photo: Shot through the bus window.

ARRIVAL AT TAKARAGAWA ONSEN

After arriving at the onsen and getting checked in, you get to pick out a yukata (and a brown outerwear called a tanzen to wear outside during the winter months). When wearing your yukata, the left side is always on top of the right side before you tie it with the obi; many people wear their yukata's the entire time during their stay.

There are four open-air hot spring locations (all open 24/7), three mixed gender and one only for women. The women are given a dress cloth and the men have a small hand towel to cover up. It is not recommended that you wear bathing suits in the hot springs! You are also not allowed to take photos to respect people's privacy, so we took pictures in the surrounding area before dinner at 6pm.

Where the guests stay.

Right photo: the suspension bridge to get to the hot springs.

The rooms are traditional japanese-style rooms with tatami mats, and they provide additional mats to sleep on at night:

Sara relaxing before dinner.

Make sure you're not late for dinner since the staff wants everything to be at its freshest when served. Dinner was buffet style, and they prepared sukiyaki on our table along with many different options on the side including curries, soba noodles, different mushrooms and veggies, soups, fish cakes, several raw fish, squid, scrambled eggs, a raw egg to put into the sukiyaki, and red bean mochi for dessert. Prepared to get uncomfortably full after the meal!

I was too excited to take a photo, and Sara was too excited to take a proper photo. 😂

DAY 2

We woke up at 4:30AM because of jet-lag, but we enjoyed more time at the onsen before breakfast at 7AM. It was pouring rain the entire time, but they provide you with rain boots and umbrellas, and if you want photos, this is the perfect chance to take them since no one else is there!

PC: Sara Ma.

With the steam surrounding you and the rain falling around you, it was a very calm and peaceful soak.

We stayed at the onsen for ~1.5 hours and dried off in the changing room before breakfast.

For breakfast they provide miso soup, mackerel, cod roe, rolled omelette (tamagoyaki), pickled veggies, natto (fermented soybeans: despite what people say, it wasn't that bad!), and other food items you eat with rice. They also had the best matcha pudding I've ever tasted and I've never felt so much joy from food before!

After breakfast, the onsen prepares a bus at 9AM to take you back to Jomo-Kogen Station to then get back to Tokyo Main Station.

Hand-held: Shutter Speed 1 second | F/9.0 | ISO 160

For anyone who wants to relax from traveling and also enjoy amazing scenery in Japan, I would highly recommend carving a day or two to venture out of the main cities and enjoy a stay at an onsen! Takaragawa is beautiful during all seasons, and for those interested, a reservation can be made through their website here (english-friendly)!

XOXO,

Audey


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All images copyrighted Ashen Photography 2019