It is hard to say if the Ghibli-esque village of Kurokawa Onsen is nestled into the land, or is a an organic growth out of it. An entity that emerged magical and complete with buildings and pathways. Something placed by the ancient forest gods to lure humans to settle. Sitting empty for millennia, waiting with its own mysterious purposes. Which are now fulfilled with the Kurokawa Onsen hot springs.

Hidden in the middle of Kyūshū– the southwestern most of Japan’s main islands – Kurokawa Onsen lies a scant 20k north of the trembling Mount AHidden in the middle of Kyūshū, the southwestern most of Japan’s main islands. Kurokawa Onsen lies a scant 20k north of the trembling Mount Aso. The largest active volcano in Japan and one of the largest in the world. It is+1,592m and with a crater 114 km in circumference! Mt. Aso is active, having erupted in 1974, 1979, 1984–1985, 1989–1991,[1] 2009, 2011, 2015[2] and 2016.[3][4] Subsequently, magma running close to the earth, creating a plethora of hot springs (Onsen) in the area.

public foot warming bath in Kurokawa Onsen
above photo public bath © lazy fri13th

The sulfuric smell of boiling earth wafts through the traditional village; a pungent reminder that all in Kurokawa Onsen is dedicated to wellness and health. One does not come for modern luxury. One comes for classic feelings of contentment, slowness, a sense of place and the lovely hot spring baths (Onsen).

In Town

The town is quite small and within walking distance are a few dozen Ryokans – traditional Japanese inn. Each Ryokan hosts hot spring baths in their own particular style. Maintaining them at specific temperatures and mineral concentrates; which are detailed to their own healing benefits.

From your ryokan, you will receive traditional Yukata (robe) and Geta (wooden sandals). With these as your outerwear; you can trundle around town to sample the public Onsen, other Ryokan or the fine shops.

There are many hidden treasures about Kurosaawa Onsen. Keep an eye out for a stone urn with eggs hard-boiled by the Kurokawa Onsen hot springs water. Also, the foot-warming baths by the bridge! Explore and enjoy it!

At the information kiosk in the center of town, one can acquire a map showing each Ryoken/Onsen and, for a modest price, a wooden pass (tegata) that grants admission to the onsen at three ryokan of one’s choosing.

This sampling is a great fun in helping to pick a Ryoken for the night!
tokens to get into the Kurokawa Onsen Hot Springs.
Tegata hanging along Shinto shrine
colorful trees
above photo © lazy fri13th
green grass, trees and a pond

In the town, there are a couple of traditional ceramic stores each with reasonable pieing, well worth the visit and a purchase. Their items are quite special. Something you may only realize as your trip continues or once you get back home. We found ourselves with a bit of remorse for not picking up another of the exquisite bowl that we still think on to this day. Another trip is the only solution!

There is also a lovely tea-house, cafes, souvenir shops, a mouth-watering sake store, and a general combini. Most importantly, look here for local beer kept ice-cold with running river water!

For the intrepid, on the outskirts of the village there are various trails to explore. Explore, be happy, be at peace and be well.

Ryoken hotel in Kurokawa Onsen
above photo Ryokan Yamamizuki © Ryokan Association


Throughout your trip to Japan. If you see something you want, get it. You will not find a better ‘price’ or ‘place’ or ‘product’. No one is ever ‘out to get you’! Coming from other parts of the world, this is something that takes a bit of remembering!
above photo public bath © lazy fri13th
Outside Ryokan Yamamizuki, a woman getting facial steam from a hot spring tank
Bus stop with public thermal water foot bath kiosk
previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow

Remember, one is expected to enter all onsen clean and nude. Showers are provided and decorum is always protected, with the onsen being gender specific and/or private.

public foot warming bath in kurokawa onsen hot springs
above photo bus stop foot bath © Freecia
primeval forrest
Path to primeval forrest
Path to Hell of Sparrow spring
previous arrow
next arrow
river through town
decorated manhole cover
Kurokawa Onsen 黒川温泉
Aso District, Minamioguni, 満願寺黒川6594−3
Kumamoto Prefecture 869-2402, Japan

We welcome your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.