May 2015 – This afternoon around 16 o’clock we finally arrived at the village of Kurokawaso. It was a rainy day. Kurokawaso is a pretty idyllic mountain village and because of the rain, now it had a fast-flowing river through it. The village is known for its thermal baths. The volcano Mount Aso is just few miles behind us and this area has many hot springs around the village.
We booked a traditionally styled hotel with the same name as the village “KurokawaSo”. I forgot to ask which came first: the hotel name or the village. Unfortunately our fancy GPS system in the car directed us to go around and had us parked at the back of the hotel. Then it took me a while to find a backdoor leading to the front desk of this hotel. One of the guests looked upon us and seemed to be surprised, however pointed us into the right direction.
Because of my other trips I have been in many hotels: luxurious and regular ones. However, this ryokan exceeded my expectations. Initially I felt kind of underdressed: Wearing a raincoat and my travelhat, backpack and dirty walking boots because of the muddy path at the back. The lady at the frontdesk did not flinch but welcomed us by our names with a bright hospitality smile. I guess we were the only foreigners at that moment. Furthermore, she offered us to have our car parked at the correct parking lot in front of the hotel instead of at the back. I was happy the hotel staff did do much better in English as I can do in Japanese.
After checking in we got a small the tour around the hotel. We were suggested to wear our yukata’s and tabi socks and geta around the hotel and to the baths outside. The geta (wooden shoes) were available near each of the exits.
We still had some time left before diner so we went to explore the hot baths of the hotel. These baths are located in the annex and are partly indoor and outdoor. Especially the outdoor pools looked beautiful with all rocks, plants and trees. It rained a lot but the temperature of the baths stays around 67 C degrees (152F) so a little cooling off was welcomed. Photographing the pools is prohibited but their website do show a few pics.
Our dinner was served in our room and this was a really beautiful and tasteful Japanese dinner that had been prepared with care. The cook probably had been busy all day to these assemble dishes together by color and taste They were master pieces of art. Sometimes miniature dishes, sometimes knotted together, and sometimes having unexpected tastes. Our Korean waitress explained every dish clearly and patiently.
Fortunately we received a translated version of the Japanese menu. By using that we were able to keep the 9 starters, three main courses and few desserts apart and so completely to savor the idea of the cook. We felt really treated as a royal guest.
Next day at 8 o’çlock breakfast was served in the dining room. Then we visited the village itself: mostly beautiful traditional houses and hotels, many water falls, small rivers and steaming wells. This village is like a small paradise.
Here we were treated as a royal guest:
- Set in a traditionally styled house with an annex, this scenic, secluded hot spring hotel is 24 km from Mount Kujū.
- Elegant rooms in the main building offer tatami floors, futons and shared bathrooms; upgraded rooms in the annex come with sunken hearths and private facilities, as well as open-air tubs with hot spring water. There’s also a room with a bed. Room service is available.
- The hotel offers a dining room, along with a coffee shop and a bar/lounge. There’s a communal bathhouse with hot spring water. The property is on several levels and facilities are accessed by stairs. Parking is available.
- Address: Japan, 〒869-2402 熊本県 阿蘇郡南小国町満願寺6775
Phone & GPS: +81 967-44-0211
Hotel closure notice
Unfortunately, due to the big Kumamoto earthquake at April 16th, 2016, this hotel was severely damaged too. Their website informs you about the progress of the rebuild.
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