Kurokawa Onsen: a choice of springs in this elegant onsen village
Deep in the mountainous hinterlands of Kyushu is the hot spring village of Kurokawa Onsen near the border of Oita and Kumamoto prefectures. The entire spa village, including 30 ryokan inns and the beautiful natural scenery around them, is considered “one ryokan,” as if each inn were a “detached villa,” connected by a network of narrow paths regarded as a “connecting corridor.” The warmth of the land and the warmth of the hospitality have made it a favorite destination for more than a million travelers every year.
For one hot spring area to contain seven types of spring, as Kurokawa Onsen does, is rare in Japan. Choose the spring quality that suits you, whether the ever-popular skin smoothing sulfate spring, the acidic spring known to be therapeutic for skin ailments, or the iron rich spring said to fortify one against the cold. Acquainting yourself with the unique charms of each spring is one of the joys of Kurokawa Onsen.
The highly recommended “Nyuto Tegata” bathing pass is a famous article in these parts. These passes made from cedar wood logs cost 1,300 yen, allowing you entry to any three hot springs of your choice. After bathing, many take it home as a souvenir, or offer it in prayer at the legendary source of the Kurokawa Onsen, Jizo-do hall, for success in love and academics, or protection of the family.
Taking a walk through atmospheric Kurokawa in yukata and geta clogs is a moving experience. Yukata are provided at each ryokan inn, and day-trippers can also rent them at the Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association. Take in the otherworldly scenery from Marusuzu Bridge, savor Akaushi (Japanese Brown) beef from the Aso area or local sake, or pick up some sweets for your stroll through Kurokawa Onsen surrounded by the faint echo of geta clogs.
While in the area, don’t miss the Nabegataki Falls. A 20-minute drive from Kurokawa Onsen, the approximately 25m wide and 9m high waterfall offers the unique experience of being able to watch the falls from behind the silk curtain of water as it descends amid the deep greens of the surrounding forest in this mystical place.
Kurokawa Onsen is a place all onsen aficionados yearn to visit one day. Step into a past era, into a heartwarming environment where flowing hot springs will carry you far away from your daily life.
Haneda Airport -> 100 min by air -> Fukuoka Airport -> 5 min by Fukuoka City Subway -> Hakata Sta. -> 165 min by expressway bus -> Kurokawa Onsen
Kurokawa Onsen Ryokan Association
*The information herein is as of April 2021.