Kuroyu Onsen Hot Spring Hachimantai National Park Akita
Akita is a prefecture (state) of Japan located in the Tohuku region of northern Honshu in the main island of Japan and the capital is the city of Akita. It is not a popular region to travel as it is quite far from the popular cities. However, it is one of the best kept secret of Japan. To travel to Akita, you need to take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station and the journey takes four hours. The first place we visited is Kuroyu Onsen (hot spring).
We took a bus arranged by Tourism Akita to the mountains of Hachimantai National Park. It is a beautiful national park which is popular with ski activities during winter. In this national park, there are seven onsen and one of them is Kuroyu Onsen. The onsen here are extremely popular with locals and tourists and the national park is very close to the scenic Tazawa Lake.
Kuroyu is dated back to the Edo period and it offers a wide range of hot baths; a male and female gender hot bath as well as the mixed gender outdoor bath. The mixed gender outdoor bath is rare and almost unheard of in Japan. You might read it in manga but in actual fact only a handful of onsen offers mixed gender outdoor bath.
If you plan to visit the onsen, you need to remove everything when you enter the hot bath regardless indoor or outdoor. This is the common rule. You can have your own towel or you can purchase a towel which is big enough to cover your private area.
The towel is to wipe your body so it is wrong to soak the towel with hot spring. That’s why you can see many Japanese put the towel on top of their head to keep it dry.
Next, the common sense of washing your body before entering the hot spring and remember to wash your body after the hot spring. There is a bath area with shampoo, body wash and conditioner.
Thus, do not spend more than 15 min in the hot spring area. Dipped into the pool for 15 min and then get dehydrated. There are usually water stations in onsen. You can pass out due to hydration and this is not a joke. I visited a hot bath in Osaka so this is my second time visiting the onsen. Since they have a mixed gender onsen, I was recommended to try the mixed gender onsen by the owner herself.
True enough, there was a lady in the mixed gender onsen but she was already dressed up leaving the onsen. If only I enter the onsen 15 or 20 minutes earlier, it will be one of the biggest culture shock experiences in my life. However, the onsen didn’t disappoint me at all.
The mix gender onsen comes with two different indoor baths and one outdoor baths.
The reason why the onsen here is unique is colour of the water. According to their website, it is from natural hydrogen sulphide spring acid sulphur of 82 ℃ creating the clouded white colour effect.
Of course the outdoor bath is greeted with the magnificent view of the valley of the Hachimantai National Park. I spent almost an hour dipping in the onsen with my friends and some strangers. The onsen is very comfortable and it is believed to have natural healing abilities too. According to their website it can help in high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, peripheral circulatory disturbance, a rheumatic disease, motility disturbance, diabetes, chronic toxicosis, chronic eczema, a wound, a frostbite, and infertility.
After enjoying my session of hot baths, we were treated with “black eggs”. These black eggs are cooked with the onsen for three hours. They are best eaten with a pinch of salt and they are tasty.
Our trip to Kuroyu Onsen is organized by Tourism Akita and Wendy Tour. For more info in traveling to Akita and Japan, visit Wendy Tour
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