Ryokan Stay in Yunishigawa Onsen

I went for an onsen trip! We stayed at a ryokan in the mountains and it probably doesn’t get any more rustic than that.

Onsen Ryokan

We went to Yunishigawa Onsen in the Nikko area, somewhere in the Tochigi prefecture (you’ll know you’re there when you start seeing lots of strawberry-flavoured souvenirs). It took us around three hours by train and bus to get there from Tokyotrain

Onsen Ryokan

What’s a long journey without ekiben? I saved on breakfast just so I could eat my train bento.

Onsen Ryokan

Eventually the bus dropped us somewhere in the mountain valley. We found our ryokan, Hana to Hana (彩り湯かしき花と華), a traditional Japanese inn a little like something out of a Ghibli movie. I’m pretty sure I’ve used that reference before; every time something’s old and Japanese I just say it looks like Ghibli.

Onsen Ryokan

I’ve never seen greater hospitality anywhere other than ryokan. They greet you at the entrance, have a special plaque with your family’s name on it, show you to your room and basically make you feel so welcome it feels like home. There’re hospitable in so many subtle ways too, like how there’ll be hot tea and a bowl of manjū (little Japanese confectionery) waiting on the table for you.

Onsen Ryokan

Ryokan rooms are the bestgirl loveThey’re spacious and clean and laid out with tatami flooring, perfect for you to just lie around on and relax. While you’re at dinner the staff come and set up the sleeping futon for you, so you can come back to a nice and cosy room with fluffy mattresses.

Onsen Ryokan

And of course you can’t miss the onsen. My friends and I went two to three times because it just felt so good to soak in a hot spring after spending a day out in the cold winter. My favourite was the big outdoor bath (rotenburo)kira

Onsen Ryokan

Dinner was a local traditional Japanese-style barbecue called okaribayaki, where everyone sat around a hearth and grilled our own meat and vegetables. It was a huge dinner course with lots of different dishes, so we were eating for a really long time.

Onsen Ryokan

The tray was arranged so nicely, and everything tasted good too! My favourite part about these kind of Japanese meals is getting to try so many different things. It’s like a sampling menu that still fills you up.

The hearth we sat around had this grill surrounded by food on skewers, kind of like our own little campfire. There were things like mochi and konnyaku and chicken which somehow tasted even better on a stick.

Onsen Ryokan

(and this fish)

Onsen Ryokan

We relaxed a lot during this triphappyI guess that’s the point of going on a trip to ryokan—enjoying simple nature and disconnecting from busy life in the city (literally, sometimes, when there wasn’t Wi-fi). Since there were several types of onsen we went as and when we wished—that night a few of us stayed up talking all night (eventually mumbling and trying hard to stay awake) until it was almost dawn. Then we went to the outdoor onsen again for a bath at sunrisekira

Onsen Ryokan

Breakfast was another grand event! They served us a course meal again with hot mochi soup and some cold tasty dishes in more pretty trays. After that we went back to the room to loll around the comfy room somewheresmileI ended up falling asleep for a bit again because I didn’t sleep the entire night.

Onsen Ryokan

Yunishigawa Onsen’s a sleepy area in the mountain valley with the bare minimum of buildings and roads, but there was gorgeous scenery instead. Like that part of the lake that was frozengirl love

Onsen Ryokan

I’m happy I got to experience an onsen getaway with friends for the first timelove girlIt was a lot of fun going as a group; being in a peaceful place makes everything and everyone feel closer, in a good way. It was just one night but I miss it already.

So I made a video in commemoration—it’s on YouTube here!

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▷ . Cheryl

A university student in Tokyo who takes pictures and puts them on the Internet

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