This is a review of our stay at Yamamizuki.

In the refreshing early summer season after the cherry blossoms had fallen, my husband and I decided to visit Kurokawa Onsen with our two small children. Kurokawa Onsen is a hot spring resort deep in the mountains, quite inaccessible, but well worth a visit. On the first day, we decided to stay at this ryokan, a little far from the center of the onsen town. To get straight to the point, it was a luxury ryokan with a rustic yet somewhat sophisticated ambience where one could spend luxurious time in the beautiful wilderness of Mt. Aso.

We boarded a plane from Haneda Airport around 10:00 a.m. and arrived at Aso Kumamoto Airport around noon. From there we boarded a Kyushu Odan Bus, which took about two hours to arrive at Kurokawa Onsen Bus Stop. When we got off the bus, the ryokan staff was waiting for us. From the bus stop, we boarded a white shuttle bus, which took us through the hot spring resort area, and after a while, we saw the ryokan where we would be staying. The ryokan is located on a hill about 2 km from the center of the Kurokawa Onsen district, so the blue sky seemed very close. As we got off the shuttle bus, we could smell the sulfurous aroma of the hot spring water. Then, as I listened carefully, I could hear the sound of a mountain stream flowing nearby. Looking around, the beautiful fresh greenery of the forests and gardens glistened in the sunlight, even more so on this day. It was a beautiful countryside that we, who are busy living in the concrete jungle of Tokyo, never get to see. We could not help but think that it was a good thing we had come all the way from Tokyo to visit.

After getting off the shuttle bus, we passed through a beautiful green path and entered through the entrance of a wooden building with a white noren and a lantern with the word “山みず木” written on it, where we were warmly greeted by the staff. We took off our shoes and changed into slippers. The black floor was polished to a shine, a modern fireplace in front, a sunken hearth table on the left, a reception counter on the right, a souvenir shop in the back, and a large vase with seasonal flowers in the center of the lobby. The traditional interior, tastefully placed furniture, and black pillars and beams dyed with persimmon tannin made us feel at ease after a long and tiring trip. The overall ambience seemed rustic, yet somehow sophisticated. The staff showed us to our seats at the sunken hearth table. After checking in here, we were offered sweet bean jelly called Yokan and green tea. We savored the yokans while gazing at the beautiful fresh green garden seen from the lobby window. Although a small ryokan with a total of 21 rooms on the spacious grounds, the lobby was spacious and comfortable. The store next to the front desk had beer, local sake, shochu, milk, soft drinks, ice cream, sweets, snacks, etc.

After a while, a staff member escorted us to our room. The hallway on the way to our room was decorated with flowers and wildflowers everywhere. We stayed in room No.106 on the first floor this time. When we entered the room through the sliding door, we found an entranceway with mud walls painted in a persimmon tannin color, which created a warm and inviting ambience. Opening the sliding door, we found a Japanese-style room with an alcove, a large porch called engawa with a carpet, and a large hexagonal table and chairs. To the right of the porch was a Daiohs coffee machine and a sink. The fridge was empty and no mineral water was provided, but tap water from the tap is available for drinking, as it is subsoil water from Mt. Aso. We tried it ourselves and found the water to be very tasty.

Since this room is a corner room, it has many windows, so the view from the room was very impressive with the beautiful fresh green sunlight filtering through the trees. Then in front of the room, there was a small box garden with a black hut. From the porch, we opened the sliding window to go outside and found a few steps leading up to the small box garden. Then, opening the sliding door of the black hut, we went inside to find a wonderful private outdoor onsen bath built right next to the river. The sound of the river flowing in front of us was in perfect harmony with the sound of the hot spring water constantly flowing from bamboo tubes.

We changed into our yukatas and headed to large onsen bathhouses on the grounds. The paths within the spacious grounds made us feel as if we were walking through a beautiful forest, and we stopped many times to enjoy the fresh air and the vivid fresh green scenery. After passing through the path along the river, we found the spacious communal outdoor onsen baths. Listening to the sound of the murmuring stream and the chirping of birds, we enjoyed the dynamic outdoor onsen baths surrounded by great nature. The indoor onsen baths are located a short distance away from the outdoor onsen baths, and we walked along the “Naked Walking Path” along the mountain stream. It was a fairly long walk, but the view was awesome. The indoor onsen baths could be filled with a view of the waterfall in the forest. The quality of the hot spring water smelled slightly of sulfur and had fine white hot water sparks dancing in the air. There are several communal onsen baths on the grounds, so we were able to walk around and enjoy the communal onsen baths. The large onsen bathhouses are relatively crowded between 10:00 and 15:00, as there are also day trippers. It may be good to avoid this time slot. There are also two private family onsen baths on the grounds. During the reserved time, they can be locked and used completely privately. Advance reservations are required and cost JPY2,000 for 50 minutes.

Also, guests staying at this ryokan can use large onsen bathhouses in the sister inn Yama no Yado Shinmeikan and the neighboring Ryokan Miyama Sansou for free. In particular, the cave onsen baths in Shinmeikan is very unique, so if you have time, try them out. The staff will take you to and from Shinmeikan. We did not go there, though, because we were very satisfied with the large onsen bathhouses on the grounds.

We were thirsty after enjoying the large onsen bathhouses, so we visited a small café near the bathhouses. The café, located on the grounds, is a traditional building with a thatched roof and red door. Visitors who wish to take a day trip to the large onsen bathhouses can register here. We entered the cafe and ordered beer for my husband and I and blueberry juice for the children. In addition, there were 5 kinds of tea and 10 kinds of coffee available. The teas included Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Orange Peko, etc. The coffees included American, Mocha Matari, Kirin Manjaro, Turkish Toraja, Blue Mountain, Espresso, Cappuccino, Cafe au Lait, etc. Light meals include beef curry, chicken curry, vegetable curry, beef stew, borscht, cream stew, meat pasta, carbonara, arrabbiata, Neapolitan, udon, soba, pilaf, salad, etc. Desserts include pudding, ice cream, and cake. The price range was comparable to that of convenience stores. The cafe is open between 8:30 and 18:00.

It is almost dusk and the area is gradually getting darker. The lanterns along the pathway began to light up. We were getting hungry, so we headed to a dining area on the first floor. The dinner started at 6:00 p.m. When we arrived at the dining area, the staff showed us to our private dining room. Our room was a tatami mat room with a sunken table. Dinner was a delicious kaiseki meal that combined simplicity and sophistication, using an abundance of local ingredients. The dishes that left a particularly strong impression on us were the Higo beef steak and beef stew.

By the way, there are few restaurants open at night in Kurokawa Onsen Town, so breakfast and dinner are basically served at ryokans where you will be staying. Most souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants close their doors before 19:00. Also, it is not recommended to go out on foot from the ryokan to the onsen town at night, as the area around the ryokan is pitch-dark with few streetlights. During the day, a shuttle service to the onsen town is available.

After dinner, we returned to our room and found futons laid out in the Japanese-style room. Then, before going to bed, we went to the large onsen bathhouses again. The open-air bath was lit up with soft light, and the rising mountains and mountain streams in the darkness and the steam from the rising hot spring created an ethereal ambience. Also, if we looked up a little, we could see a star-filled sky in the night sky.

The next day, we woke up a little after 7:00 a.m. and looked out the window to see the moss and trees in the box garden shining in the morning sun. We brewed coffee in the coffee machine and sat in the porch chairs for a while, listening to the murmuring of the river and admiring the quiet morning garden.

Then, around 8:00, we headed to the dining area for breakfast. The staff showed us to the same private dining room where we had taken our dinner. Breakfast was only Japanese food, and the yu-tofu was especially delicious. After breakfast, the children and I enjoyed the private outdoor onsen bath along the river in the box garden. We had the pleasure of soaking in the best hot spring water while admiring the beautiful fresh greenery. The ryokan has very nice and powerful large communal onsen baths, but the private onsen bath in our room also impressed us with its indescribably quaint structure. We would like to visit the ryokan again in a different season.
Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda
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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.

Alternatively, you can take Kyushu Odan Bus from Kumamoto Station to Kurokawa Onsen bus stop, which takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes, or about 2 hours from Aso Kumamoto Airport.

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.

Please use a free shuttle service from Kurokawa onsen bus stop. Inform staff in advance. It takes less than 10 minutes by car from the bus stop.

From the end of November to the middle of March, there is a possibility of frozen roads and snow accumulation. If you are coming by car, you will need to use tire chains or studless tires.

Yamamizuki is located deep in the mountains, 2km from the onsen town. The road width is very narrow, and a little steep, so you need to drive while sharing the road with oncoming cars. You may feel stressed by this.

How about toiletries & in-room amenities?

All of the amenities are taken care of including minimum toiletries, yukatas, a coffee machine, and a green tea set, etc. There are no skincare products. Free Wi-Fi was available around the reception area. Room service is not available.

Then there is no convenience store in the onsen town, but Goto Liquor Store is like a convenience store. You can buy local sake, beer, wine, milk, souvenirs, groceries, and daily necessities, etc. The store is open between 8:40 and 22:00.

How about In-house Facilities?

The wooden building lacks modern soundproofing. I could sometimes hear doors slamming and people talking in the hallway. If you are a light sleeper, I would recommend the sister inn, Ryokan Miyama Sansou.

Then there are some wonderful communal outdoor and indoor hot spring baths on the grounds. They are open between 6:00 and 11:00, 14:00 and 22:00.

Also, there are two private family onsen baths. Advance reservations are required and cost JPY2,000 for 50 minutes. They are open between 14:00 and 20:00.

Then guests can use communal hot spring baths in the sister inns, Yama no Yado Shinmeikan and Ryokan Miyama Sansou.

If you have tattoos, you will not be able to use the communal onsen areas. Please use the reserved private family onsen baths, or book a room with a private onsen bath.

How about meals?

All meals are served in a private room in a dining area on 1F. Dinner starts at 18:00 or 18:30. Breakfast starts at 7:00, 7:30, or 8:00. If you have dinner on the property, you need to check in by 18:00.

Then, as far as I know, there are no restaurants in the onsen town that serve breakfast and dinner. There are many restaurants that serve lunch, though. You might want to book a room with meals included.

Have a nice trip! Welcome to receive any questions about the property from the below space. You need to inform the staff of your expected arrival time in advance. Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda

Info about Yamamizuki

Style Traditional Onsen Ryokan
Check-in and out times
Estimated Price 60,000 JPY for 2 adults per room
Contact E-mail
Internet Connection Free wifi at the lobby only
Facility Information Wheelchairs are not available
Pets are not allowed
The free parking lot is available
Location Yamamizuki’s MAP
Access free pick-up from Kurokawa Onsen Bus Stop
Need to book it in advance
Address and TEL 〒869-2402 Kumamoto, Aso, Minami
Oguni-Machi, Kurokawa Onsen 6392-2
Tel +81-967-44-0336
Official Homepage Yamamizuki’s HP

*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.

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