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, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016. Subsequently, magma running close to the earth, creating a plethora of hot springs (Onsen) in the area.
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).
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!
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.
Tip: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!
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.