It has been the mid-autumn in Japan, which is my most favorite season in a year. I believe this is the best time to travel in our country for enjoying landscape in the nature due to changing leaves colors from green to yellow & red. The season reminds me that a time to visit Teshiozawa Onsen in Okukinu Onsenkyo, Tochigi Prefecture at the end of October, a few years ago.
Great autumn leaves, nice walking and fantastic hot spring
Okukinu Onsenkyo locates in a kind of unexplored region where we can reach only by foot for a few hours from the nearest public bus station. Only your way to go there except walking is to hire a private taxi or to reserve a shuttle provided by inns in advance. As Okukinu Onsen is very famous for having good hot springs and beautiful nature landscape in autumn season, my onsen buddies who like hiking planned to visit there in that season. We booked a room of Teshirozawa Onsen inn where locates in the most inner spot in the region several months ago, because it was so hard to secure a room on weekends, in particular, during autumn.
3 buddies including me started to walk from the nearest bus top called Meotobuchi Onsen (Actually, we were a group with 4 people, but one of members was broken her leg a few weeks before. Surprisingly, she joined our trip by hiring a private taxi! She also wanted to enjoy this precious moment and landscape once a year). It was a bit windy, but the weather was so fine for hiking. Mountain trees were completely turned to yellow and red. We really enjoyed breathing fresh air and walking the paths covered by leaves which made very comfortable sound and it healed us very much.
On the way to Teshirozawa Onsen, we passed by 2 other famous onsen called Kani-yu and Haccho-no-yu. Kani-yu is the typical Japanese ryokan style inn and Haccho-no-yu seems like a mountain lodge. These inns are also very popular among hikers, especially Onsen lovers, and were many visitors when we stopped to have lunch there. Actually, I have never stayed in both of the inns, but I would like to try to come and stay there with other friends in the near future. Our goal was a little far from there and it has passed another an hour since we left Kani-yu and Haccho-no-yu when we reached Teshirozawa Onsen Inn.
Teshirozawa Onsen where locates in the most unexplored region
The inn was quite simple, which has just 6 rooms altogether with Wi-Fi connections, but no TV sets in the room. Of course, it was full bookings on the day. Some families with small kids also stayed there other than us. Coming to the inn by our own cars was prohibited, which means kids also had to come here by walking for a few hours in the mountain paths. How energetic they were!
The inn had an inner bath and outer bath with pure natural Onsen water which is sulfur spring. I really like to smell of sulfur because it always makes me happy to spend a special time. The Onsen water was a bit hot, but it was so comfortable, in particular, in the outer bath. There was almost no light at night, but we could see lots of twinkling stars which we couldn’t see in Tokyo from the bath tab. Taking a bath in the early morning was also great to awaken our body and I took a bath 4 times altogether while staying there! (Do you think it too much for you?)
The dinner was not so luxury, but they served us various foods of the local land such as freshwater fishes and mountain herbs. The series of dishes consisted of 4-5 different plates including dessert. The amount of foods were also quite reasonable for woman and we were very satisfied with the composition. (Japanese Ryokans and Inns sometimes serve us too much dishes which we cannot consume all of them. I always felt guilty when I cannot finish up all.) They also served free drink such as coffee at the end of dishes.
We left the inn at around 10:00 am next morning and kept walking for a few hours to the nearest bus stop again. We took a different route on the way home and it was also nice walking, talking and taking pictures time for us. (My friend who hired a private taxi picked us up at the bus stop and we rode on together to Kinugawa Onsen Station.) All of us were completely satisfied with the combination trip, autumn hiking & Onsen.
Okukinu Onsenkyo is easy to access from Asakusa Station by taking TOBU train and locates on the neighbor area of Nikko, a famous touristic spot. If you have a chance to visit to Nikko and have a spare time, why don’t you make a little side trip to Okukinu Onsenkyo if you like a trip in the nature? Of course, autumn season is fascinating, but other 3 seasons also show you different aspects and enjoyment 😉