This post depicts an interesting experience during our recent trip to Japan and trying Onsen in the traditional Japanese style with an affordable price compared to the ordinary costs. For anyone who is about to travel on your own to Japan, don’t miss out on this post. Now, let’s check it out Hanamaki onsen bath through our review Japanese onsen bath in Kitakami (Kitakami onsen), Japan below.
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Onsen is the natural hot spring originated from volcanoes so the water here is pure mineral water, which is really good for your health. The Japanese often come here not only to relax but also to take good care of their bodies and prevent any potential illness.
The location we selected to experience onsen bath is Kitakami City (Kitakami onsen), Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku (the Northeastern of Japan). We travelled to Kitakami from Matsumoto. For those of you who would like to travel from Tokyo, the instruction is available as follows:
- At Tokyo Station, you can catch the Tohoku Shinkansen and the train goes straight to Kitakami Station, which is 497 km away and only takes 2 hours and 57 minutes by the high-speed Shinkansen with the retail ticket price of up to 1,160 yen for one way.
- Remember to make reservation in advance and use JR Pass All Japan to save a whole fortune on travel expenses when visiting Japan on your own.
Back to Kitakami, the first concern is accommodation. We were really lucky to be able to reserve an amazingly affordable, nicely decorated Japanese-style hotel. You can have an experience of staying in a traditional Japanese-style house with two floors, which is finished with wooden walls and kept astoundingly tidy.
You can only book your room here – a reservation website for Japanese hotels, which used to be only for the domestic, fortunately it is recently open for international visitors. When making a reservation, you do not have to pay in advance or make a deposit; you only have to pay for your accommodation during check-in. Japanese people do respect trustworthiness, so make sure you only make your hotel reservation when you are definitely going to stay there.
The hotel we selected is Kenji-no-yado. Room rate is 4.800 yen/2 people/night, including taxes and service charge fees. The hotel only accepts payment in cash. And we experienced two nights here.
Kenji-no-yado Hotel is located just right off the Shin-hanamaki Station (Tohoku Shinkansen also stops here). It is 5-minute walk straight from the station.
Hotels in Japan have very late check-in and early check-out hours, and it is similar at Kenji-no-yado Hotel: 4 P.M. for check-in and 9 A.M. for check-out. We arrived at Shin-hanamaki at 5 P.M. Since this place belongs to the countryside and there is no available shop around, you should always have dinner first at the station.
At Shin-hanamaki Station, there is a Soba noodle soup shop, which is one of the most famous traditional noodles in Japan that you must try when coming here.
In Japan, the image of the food on the menu always looks exactly the same as the food in reality. One thing you should note is that you will order food on a machine, so be prepared with a few coins.
After settling the stomach issue, you should be ready to carry your luggage to the hotel for check-in. When entering the hotel, remember to remove your shoes and leave them outside. If you have a wheeled suitcase, you can ask the staff to wipe to wheels thoroughly before taking them inside. Everything here is super clean that you may feel really uncomfortable or even guilty to leave a couple stains on your way.
Upon arrival, you will also receive a form to fill in your personal information like this: your full name, date of birth, passport, home address, duration of stay, etc. In Japan, most people don’t speak English or are only able to understand very basic terms, so we mainly communicated via Google translate with the staff.
You will receive an instruction guide as the above photo and remember to note the selected time to use the bathroom. You have up to 30 minutes to use the bathroom and you should notify the hotel staff which time frame you choose to take a bath (from 5 P.M. to 11 P.M.) for preparation in advance. This is to guarantee a clean and tidy bathroom with a hot tub available for you.
Our room is room number 25; everything is clean and adorable here.
The view of the whole room. Pajamas are prepared by the hotel during the entire stay of the guests.
Always remember to order breakfast for yourself here (500 yen/person) because besides the station, there are no other restaurants around here.
There are three time frames for breakfast: 7 A.M., 7:30 A.M. and 8 A.M. The Japanese are really punctual. You appear on time and should expect your breakfast is already set on the table. The rice is free and served in a pot, which you may have as much as you want. There are tea, coffee and milk, which are also free of charge.
When you’re done eating, clean up after yourself and bring the plates to the kitchen for the staff or at least stow the tray tidily if you have time.
In Kitakami, there are two popular Onsen places: Semi Onsen (You can check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com) and Hanamaki Onsen. We chose to visit Hanamaki Onsen. Hanamaki Onsen primarily offers service to the Japanese from the city coming here on vacation.