This is a review of our stay at Kurokawa Onsen Oyado Noshiyu.
In the cold winter season, when the sky was covered with thick clouds that looked as if it would snow at any moment, my husband and I stayed in Fukuoka City and next visited Kurokawa Onsen. We were lucky enough to find a room available at “Oyado Noshiyu,” which is always popular and difficult to book. To get straight to the point, we were right to choose this ryokan, which was too good to leave after only one night’s stay.
We took an express bus from Nishitetsu Tenjin Express Bus Terminal in Fukuoka City to Kurokawa Onsen, arriving at the Kurokawa Onsen bus stop about three hours later. We got off in front of the bus stop, which was built with a kayabuki roof, and the ryokan staff was waiting for us. At this time, as predicted by the weather forecast, snow started to fly. After taking the shuttle bus, it took about three minutes to arrive at the ryokan where we would be staying this time. The ryokan was located in the center of the hot spring resort area.
As we got off the shuttle bus in front of the magnificent moss-covered, tiled-roofed gate and passed through it, we felt as if we had stepped back in time more than a hundred years. In front of us was a wonderful manicured garden that looked like the garden of a temple in Arashiyama, Kyoto. A light dusting of snow had begun to accumulate on the green moss. We walked along the stone-paved path, listening to the sound of water cascading down the stone washbasin from a bamboo tube near the gate, to the building where the reception counter was located. The ryokan, which has been painstakingly built over a long period of time, was built taking advantage of the terrain, so there were many steps. It is not a place for people with limited mobility.
At the entrance of the building hung a wooden sign with the words “のし湯” written on it. Near the entrance, firewood was stacked and dried corn were tastefully displayed. Entering the massive wooden structure, one was surrounded by a nostalgic ambience. Also, the smell of an oil stove came out of nowhere. The ryokan was like a sophisticated mountain lodge. After taking off our shoes at the entrance and checking in briefly at the reception desk on the right, a staff member showed us to a table by the window. Then, they prepared us some rice cakes and green tea. We enjoyed them while gazing out the window at the elegant courtyard, where snow had begun to fall silently.
After a short while, a staff member escorted us to our room. The ryokan has a total of 11 rooms on the grounds, each with a unique structure. It was also exciting just to walk around the ryokan because of its intricate structure. We stayed in a treehouse-style villa with a private onsen called Konomi. The exterior is a simple little black hut, but when we climbed the stairs at the entrance and went inside, we were enveloped in a cozy environment. Clogs, rain shoes, and umbrellas were provided at the entrance. It was snowing outside, which came in handy when moving around the grounds. On the left side was twin beds on tatami mats, and on the right side was a couch. Then on the balcony was a swing for two made by the staff. Next to the balcony was a staircase leading down. When you went down the stairs, there was a bathroom and a private onsen with a hinoki cypress bath. Although it was an indoor onsen, the windows could be opened so that one could enjoy it while feeling the outside air. The villa was not large, but it was just the right size for two adults.
For those with children, we would recommend the rooms called “Azami” or “Shion” , which have private onsen baths and can accommodate up to 4 people.
We quickly changed into our yukatas and decided to go to communal onsen baths on the ryokan grounds. This ryokan has the large communal onsen baths and private family onsen baths scattered throughout its spacious grounds, so we could go on a hot spring hopping at any time. The ryokan grounds were very well stocked with two communal indoor onsen baths, two outdoor communal onsen baths, and four private family onsen baths. The private family onsen baths can be locked and used in complete privacy whenever they are available. In addition, the only onsen baths where soap can be used are the private family onsen baths, called Momiji and Konara. Please note that due to the nature conservation of Kurokawa Onsen, only the soaps and shampoos that are always available can be used.
On the way to the communal onsen baths, we found a traditional kayabuki roofed sunken hearth in the garden. The hearth was crackling and the coals were burning red hot, so we sat down in front of the hearth to warm ourselves. For a while, we simply watched the snow fall silently as we warmed ourselves on the hearth. There was a beautiful scene of the countryside there that we could never see in Tokyo.
After about 10 minutes, our bodies finally warmed up, so we put on our umbrellas again and walked along a small path in the garden through the falling snow to the spacious communal oudoor onsen baths. The actual communal outdoor onsen baths were more powerful and surprisingly spacious than the picture on the website. It was around 3:30 p.m. on a weekend day, and I was the only visitor to the women’s communal outdoor onsen bath. It was my first experience to be the only one in such a spacious outdoor onsen bath. The sight of fluttering snowflakes dancing in the steam was very mystical. I unconsciously followed and watched the ephemeral snowflakes as they fell on the surface of the hot spring water and disappeared in the blink of an eye.
After enjoying the communal outdoor onsen baths, my husband and I met up at the sunken hearth hut we had just stopped at and headed to the standing private family onsen bath called 立ち湯. We picked up the key at the guard box on the ryokan grounds and headed to the hut where the standing bath was located. The bathtub was about 110 cm deep, and the style of bathing while standing made for a very interesting onsen experience. We were able to fully enjoy the high quality hot water of Kurokawa Onsen.
After this we were hungry and headed to the dining area. Dinner started at 18:00. When we entered the dining room and looked up at the ceiling, we saw the massive beams assembled back and forth, left and right. We sat at the counter seats in front of the open kitchen. If you are with children, you can have a private room. The Japanese kaiseki cuisine, prepared with delicious ingredients sourced from all over Kyushu, was sophisticated. Each dish was carefully prepared and served one by one. I was particularly impressed with the beef steak grilled with magnolia leaves. The meat was very tender, not too fatty, yet still crunchy and super tasty. Also, the crème brûlée for dessert was very delicious, with a rich pistachio-flavored custard under a crispy caramel.
After dinner, the snow that had been falling earlier had stopped, so we decided to go see Yuakari Festival in the onsen town. The river running through the hot spring resort area was decorated with spherical ball lanterns made of woven bamboo strips and 2-meter-high tube lanterns made of hollowed out bamboo, blending in with the natural scenery. On a dignified winter night, we were moved by the mystical space created by the light and shadows from the delicately crafted bamboo overflowing with light. The yuakari is lit from dusk until 10:00 p.m. every year from December through March.
After returning to the ryokan, we decided to visit a bar on the ryokan grounds. As we entered the bar, which had been moved and renovated from the attic of an old barn, we could hear jazz music. The antique furniture and interior decor were tastefully arranged to create an adult atmosphere. The drink menu was not extensive, but whiskey, gin, shochu, Heartland, Heineken, Budweiser, Lebenbroich, Bacardi Mojito, SMIRNOFF, etc. were available in a glass fridge. The price range was reasonable. We savored our delicious drinks while listening to the jazz playing on the audio for a while. It was a very cozy bar, so we ended up staying there for a long time. By the way, this is a self-service, so there is no staff on duty. You fill in the name of your drink and the number of drinks on the form on the counter, and hand it in to the staff at the reception desk. Business hours are from 16:00 to 22:00.
The next day, we woke up just before 8:00 a.m.. I went outside to the balcony to find a bright blue sky and a silver world all around. Then, we hurried to the dining room to have breakfast at 8:15. Breakfast was Japanese food. We were served at a partitioned table with a sunken kotatsu. The menu consisted of such standard dishes as crispy vegetable salad, pork and steamed vegetables, grilled salmon, rolled egg, deep-fried tofu, ground fermented soybeans, and Jersey milk. It was a refreshing morning, free from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast without hesitation.
After breakfast, we had coffee in the lounge on the ryokan grounds and enjoyed the private onsen in our room until we checked out. We only stayed one night at this ryokan, so we did not have enough time at all. We really wanted to spend more time enjoying the private family onsen baths, relaxing in the cafe, and strolling through the beautiful garden. We will look forward to our next visit.
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Is the location easy to access?
It takes about three hours by express bus from Nishitetsu Tenjin Express Bus Terminal in Fukuoka City or Fukuoka Airport to Kurokawa Onsen Bus Stop. The express buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, power outlets, blankets, and toilets. The seats are spacious, so you can enjoy a comfortable bus ride. Please use this information as a reference.
Reservations are required for both of the above buses. The number of buses to Kurokawa Onsen is limited, so be sure to make a reservation in advance. In particular, buses arriving at Kurokawa Onsen Bus Stop around 15:00 are often fully booked.
Then free shuttle service is available from Kurokawa Onsen Bus stop. Please let the staff know in advance if you need it. Alternatively, it is a 10-minute walk from the bus stop, so if you don’t have a lot of luggage, you can walk there.
Then the location of the ryokan is very convenient as it is in the center of the onsen town. Also, if you want to enjoy “Yuakari Festival” between December and March, I would recommend staying in the onsen town.
How about toiletries & in-room amenities?
All of the amenities are taken care of including minimum toiletries, yukatas, Japanese sweets, and a green tea set, etc. There are Kose skincare products in the bathroom. Room service is not available.
Then free WiFi reception was available in our room, the lounge, and the reception area. Also, there are some PCs in the lounge.
Then there is no convenience store in Kurokawa Onsen, but Goto Liquor Store is like a convenience store in the hot spring town. You can buy local sake, beer, wine, milk, souvenirs, groceries, daily necessities, etc. Open from 8:40 to 22:00. The store is about a 3-minute walk from the ryokan.
How about In-house Facilities?
There are wonderful large communal outdoor and indoor onsen baths on the ryokan grounds. Also, there are four private family onsen baths for free which guests can use whenever they are not occupied. The private family onsen baths can be used in complete privacy with the key locked.
The communal indoor onsen baths are open from 15:00-10:00 the following morning. The communal outdoor onsen baths are open from 7:00-11:00, 15:00-22:30. The private family onsen baths are open from 7:00-11:00, 15:00-22:30.
*Please note that if you have tattoos, please use the private family onsen baths, or book a room with a private onsen bath.
There is also a nice bar, cafe and lounge on the ryokan grounds. It was a comfortable atmosphere for adults. Coffee and English tea are available free of charge in the lounge. You can also have lunch at the cafe. The menu included coffee, cappuccino, espresso, tea, apple juice, mango juice, orange juice, pizza, cookies, etc., and the price range was reasonable.
How about meals?
The kaiseki dinner was delicious. The food is the equivalent of a Michelin star or two. All meals are basically served in the dining room.
If you stay in a room called “AZAMI” or “SHION,” all meals will be served in a private dining room.
After dinner, some rice balls were served as a midnight snack.
Dinner started at 18:00. Breakfast started at 8:15.
Then since there are few restaurants open at night in Kurokawa Onsen town, breakfast and dinner are basically served at ryokans where you are staying. Most souvenir stores, cafes, and restaurants close before 19:00. It is recommended that you book a room with meals included.
Have a wonderful time! Welcome to receive any questions about Oyado Noshiyu from the below space.
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Info about Kurokawa Onsen Oyado Noshiyu
|Check-in and out times
|60,000 JPY for 2 adults per room
|Call at +81 967-44-0308 from overseas
Call at 0967-44-0308 domestic Japan
|Free WiFi available
| Wheelchairs are not available
Pets are not allowed
The free parking lot is available
|Kurokawa Onsen Oyado Noshiyu’s MAP
|Free shuttle service from Kurokawa Onsen Bus Stop
Need to book it in advance
|Address and TEL
|6591-1 Manganji, Minamioguni-machi, Aso-gun
Kumamoto 869-2402 Tel +81 967-44-0308
|Kurokawa Onsen Oyado Noshiyu’s HP
*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.
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