I haven’t written about my hot spring travel for a while because I had refrained from visiting other places due to COVID-19 spreads, but I have started to go on a trip a little by little in nearby areas in Japan in these 6 months. I am very happy to upload my new Onsen (hot spring) episode this time, although travelers from around the world haven’t come back yet to Japan.
I will introduce 2 one-house inns in secluded hot springs part1 and part2. The one is called “Rankeisou” in Echigo-Nagano in Niigata prefecture (the north-western area of Tokyo) and the other is “Hoshi Onsen Chojukan” in Gumma prefecture (nearby are from Tokyo). The common features of these Onsen inns are keeping old Japanese wooden housing style.
Rankeisou, Echigo-Nagano Onsen in Niigata
It was in November 2021, late autumn when I visited Rankeiso with my husband. We reached Tsubane-Sanjo Station by Joetsu Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo taking almost 2 hours, then reached there by shuttle bus service by the inn from Tsubame-Sanjo station by taking almost 45 minutes. (FYI, shuttle bus service needs pre-reservation when you book the inn, otherwise, you need to get on a local bus or take a taxi.)
Rankeisou is located in the middle of a nowhere as a one-house inn and it seemed like a time slip to the old time in Japan. Leaves of trees just changed yellow and red colors, a river is running aside the property, and lots of colorful carps in the clear-water stream and pond. I was healed by the scenery around the inn to feel calm nature and forget our busy life in the city.
The main wooden building called “Ryokufukan” which is registered as national tangible cultural property used to be located near Tsubame station almost 100 years ago, then was moved to the current place 75 years ago. How amazing it is that the wooden building still remains in the present time! (Unfortunately, we stayed in a room by the riverside of the new building, not in the old building, but it was also a great atmosphere.
Hot spring is my main theme of the trip
The Onsen water was also fantastic and the spring quality is categorized as “chloride cold mineral spring” which is transparent and a bit salty. It is said that the spring is effective for cuts, burns, sensitivity to cold, women’s diseases, neuralgia, stiff shoulders, etc. My skin is very sensitive in nature, but I didn’t feel any itchiness and had any rash after taking bath several times. There are 2 different types of reserved baths for private bathing called “Ishiyu” and “Fukayu” for hotel guests other than large public baths in the inn. “Ishiyu (means stone-spring in Japanese)” has an outer bath created by many large stones and “Fukayu (means deep-spring” in Japanese) has also an outer bath that has a 130cm deep tub. We choose Ishiyu this time.
The atmosphere of the bath was full of liberation, but the temperature of the hot spring was not enough warm to keep staying for the outer bath in the autumn season because it is low in nature. So, I recommend you to visit the inn in warmer seasons like spring and summer from the viewpoint of enjoying hot spring as it is. I also would like to repeat to come here in the warmer season and try “Fukayu” next time. Of course, I would like to add that the hot springs in large public baths were warm enough, so you don’t worry so much even if you visit there in cold seasons.
You may understand why Japanese food is a registered intangible cultural asset by UNESCO!?
Besides, we never forget the fancy meals at the inn. Special meals served at hot spring inns in Japan are incredible and remarkable. Especially for a dinner meal, they served almost 10 different dishes one after another from appetizer and dessert by course menu style, it usually takes us to eat them up for 1.5-2 hours. Most dishes are used local specialties and foods, so you may find rare ingredients or meals with regional flavors which you seldom encounter at Japanese restaurants in your country, or even in cities in Japan.
Additionally, chefs of Japanese traditional inns are particular about the not only taste but the beauty of the meal’s appearance, therefore, we can enjoy the food from both the palate and the sense of sight! Anyway, the amount of food is massive and I strongly recommend you not to snack too much and to take hot spring at least 1 time before dinner to make you hungry! Breakfast is also as wonderful as dinner. It is not too much amount like dinner, but they serve us a wide variety of combinations of Japanese-style dishes. FYI, my favorite is the “Hot spring egg” which is a half-boiled egg by hot spring. The local egg is very tasty with a strong flavor and it’s great to eat it with soy source or soup stock together!
As I added the website information about Rankeisou, Echigo-Nagano here, please check it if you are interested.
Tsubame-Sanjo is where Japanese craftsmanship is inherited
As a side note, Tsubame-Sanjo is a very famous place of origin for kitchen/tableware products such as kitchen knives and cutlery. Their knives are very sharp and cutlery is designed as easy-to-use for a human being. It is of high quality so that the prices are not reasonable but I swear it is worth buying. There is a product store near Tsebane-Sanjo station by 5 minutes walking or you may also visit each workshop by yourself if you are strongly fascinated by their products. As for me, I am very curious about nail clippers produced by SUWADA Blacksmith Works, Inc. The nail clippers enable you to be sharp and clean-cut, so you don’t need to file the edge of nails after cutting.
I will introduce “Hoshi Onsen Chojukan” next time as Part2 shortly. I am happy if you come back here to check my blog again! Besides, I have posted the tips for manners when you enjoy hot springs in Japan and other hot spring sites, so please don’t miss to check the episodes as well 😉