When we started planning our 2016 trip to Japan we both felt it would be essential to try and stay in some more traditionally Japanese accomodation and couldn’t go past the location and setting we found at Okumizuma Onsen.
Our very first night in Japan turned out to be one where we were able to immerse ourselves into Japan and soak away over 24 hours of planes, trains and automobiles in the natural hot spring baths of Okumizuma Onsen.
Getting to Okumizuma Onsen
Nestled in a valley a mere 23km drive from the Kansai International Airport (KIX) we bought tickets on the “JR” to get from the Kansai-Airport station to Hineno. These were Y460 each (about AUD5.50 at the prevailing exchange rate). From Hineno we used a taxi for the remaining journey which was an interesting trip through the urban areas before rolling into the more mountainous terrain. Despite the cost (around AUD45) it was an excellent journey and a great introduction to Japanese Taxi services.
As part of the “package” a shuttle-bus service drops guests off at the nearby Mizuma Kannon railway station. We were lucky and the shuttle driver ended up taking us to the (much further away) JR station allowing us to continue our journey with ease.
Once we arrived we were immediately met by the reception staff who spirited away our luggage, helped us transition from our “outdoor” shoes to the far more comfortable provided slippers and completed check-in.
At this point our limited (virtually nil) Japanese language skills provided the challenge of explaining that I had a food allergy and couldn’t eat the seafood portions of the included meals. Admittedly this would continue to be an inconvenience through the whole trip and will have to be something I work on for the future (how to explain being allergic to seafood, not the allergy itself).
We then were led up to our room, in the traditional Japanese tatami mat style the room was spacious and easy to relax in.
There was also a well stocked “minibar” and for a wider range of cold drinks vending machines in the lounge/lobby area.
The video below captures some of the grounds and the peaceful tranquility of the setting.
Our package included at traditional Japanese meal served in our room, this was a revelation in terms of personalised service helping us understand just how to eat such a feast. While mine was varied from the usual seafood fare it was well done and at no point did I feel that I was just getting some quickly applied substitutions with every dish still having the balance and presentation of the “normal” versions.
After dinner we rolled ourselves downstairs to relax in the lounge prior to having our first go at the traditional Japanese Onsen bathing. There’s rules about Onsen bathing that we’d read up on and checked out on Youtube so at the very least we knew what to expect. Again the staff were helpful and making sure any questions we had were answered, especially so with establishing which Baths were allocated to which gender (at Okumizuma Onsen they rotate between the two areas) during our visit.
In then end I stripped down and did it, fortunately for me there was only one other male guest and I only saw him at breakfast the following morning. I guess I had the ultimate in easy introductions to Onsen baths. The supplied toiletries were outstanding, I suppose at one level my western expectation of tiny bottles of mediocre production were blown away by full size pump packs of branded product.
When we returned to our room we found that it has been reset to the bedtime configuration.
The beds were warm and comfortable and while you may feel that you’re “sleeping on the floor” it’s really no different to being tucked in to a western style bed, just a shorter fall if you roll out during the night!
The next morning we hit the Onsen once again before taking breakfast in the dining room. Breakfast is still served individually, however you share the space with your fellow guests. Again the sheer volume and variety of food was such that we didn’t consider eating more than the odd snack until much later in the day.
By the time we packed up and boarded the mini-bus we were already planning our return on a future trip to Japan.
Photos from Okumizuma Onsen
Booking related bits…
We booked Okumizuma Onsen using the Japanican website. While the place does list on Hotels.com I found that the Japanican system gave a clearer ability to book for the correct number of guests and so on. Our final cost at the time of our stay was around AUD450 for a single night thanks to our poor exchange rate.
Pricing may be above some budgets but for the level of inclusions it’s actually quite good in comparison to many other Ryokans marketed towards western tourists. The all-inclusive (dinner & breakfast) nature of the Ryokan should be taken into account when doing cost comparisons, likewise the shuttle service to the nearby train station which will save you a taxi fare.