Kurokawa onsen - Yu no hira
I don't have much time to write today, therefore I will just introduce two small onsen towns located in north Kyushu. Both have an authentic atmosphere, are a little isolated and uneasy to reach...Welcome to Kurokawa onsen and Yu no hira.
I went there with my aunt a year and a half ago, during my usual stay in Hita for the year-end holidays. Kurokawa onsen is a cute little village located a little south from Hita. A car is definitely necessary to get there, something that did not prevent it from becoming very popular, in fact it was even ranked among the country's top onsen towns. The only public transportation to get there is a bus. Due to the small size of the village, it's unlikely you'll find large hotels like in other places of Japan and like those manchester hotels in the UK. Instead you can reserve a room at a Japanese Ryokan( a traditional Japenese inn) to have a truly authentic trip. I usually tend not to trust "official" rankings, often ruled by vile marketing concerns but in this case, Kurokawa onsen is actually a very good choice. Surprisingly though, it wasn't affected by mass tourism.
Built on a slope, the village itself is really pleasant to stroll, but it is the quality of its onsens that really sets it apart. I only managed to try two of them due to lack of time, but I would definitely have stayed longer to enjoy more.
The first bath I tried, located right by a river at the edge of a wood, was absolutely gorgeous! This picture shows the layout:
As you can see, the onsen is at the right and slightly above the river level. It is a real wonder, especially in winter to warm oneself.
Some other shots:
The second bath was also amazing, yet completely different as it was located inside a cave! Unfortunately, you will only see the entrance, not the galleries inside, because it was impossible to take any picture due to the steam.
And here are some pictures of the village:
Yu no Hira
If Kurokawa onsen is not affected by mass tourism, I had the impression that Yu no hira is not even affected by tourism at all. Inside the tiny station hall, seeing the cat comfortably settled down made me think that visitors must not come very often:
And through the window at the right, you can see the only taxi that commutes between the station and the village...
The reason is actually pretty simple: Yu no hira is just an ordinary village, without any flourishes. Don't expect any breathtaking view or wonderful bath, there's just nothing visually attractive. On the other hand, it's the perfect place to experiment the authentic lifestyle of a countryside village built on a hot spring.
The public baths are extremely basic, limited to their primary function, and most of them only have a small box to collect the admission fee:
Here is one of the baths, nothing extravagant as you can see:
And here again, some pictures of the village: