Kinugawa Onsen is a hot spring town located in the city of Nikko, Tochigi. The resort is just upstream of Kinugawa river, earning its name which literally translates to ”angry demon river”. The hot springs in the area were first discovered in the early Meiji Period (1868-1912). As a less crowded town, Kinugawa serves as a more convenient travel destination for tourists seeking places that are more accessible by train. This makes Kinugawa a more laid-back destination within convenient proximity to tourist attractions where visitors can relax while enjoying the lush natural surroundings after a day’s exploration.
There are many accommodations that can be found in Kinugawa, one of which is Asaya Hotel, a well-known modern hotel, with a reputation for good food and has been used as a set for many television dramas. Guests are invited to relax in the “Aerial Garden Open-air Bath”, located at the highest point in Kinugawa Onsen. The communal bath features a wide space and an unobstructed view of the town. Along with this, there is also a large indoor communal bath and a sauna. Asaya Hotel also offers many leisure facilities for its guests including a teahouse, “Izakaya”, that offers an “adult hideaway” with select sake and shochu. In addition, there is also a playground for the kids and an outdoor pool. There is also Kinugawa Kanaya Hotel, a luxurious accommodation featuring large Japanese-style and Western-style rooms with wooden terrace with a view of Kinugawa River Valley, some rooms with their own hot spring bath. The hotel offers a unique take on the traditional multi-course meals, Kanaya Kaiseki Wakeiyosan, which is the hotel’s own creation. Alternatively, guests can choose the Kanaya Yuba Kaiseki Keiryusuinei that features river produce and seafood as well as seasonal vegetables from Nikko. Guests are invited to enjoy the ancient cypress bath or the more modern four seasons bath–both of which use a schedule to alternate between male and female guests.
Meanwhile, there is also a luxury accommodation established in 1925, Kinugawa Grand Hotel Yume no Toki is situated on an elevated area with lush Japanese gardens. It provides a quiet and serene atmosphere and a hundred rooms fitted with tatami mat flooring and futon bedding, as well as a sitting area with large windows that overlook the mountains. Guests are invited to unwind and relax in the five large communal baths or reserve any of the private baths in the establishment. There is also Hotel Mikazuki which is a Japanese-style accommodation that features open-air baths located at the highest spot in the area and a large hot spring bath that spans 100 meters, overlooking a gorge. The hotel offers a variety of hot spring baths to choose from–indoor and open-air public baths, as well as private ones that can be reserved in advance. Hotel Mikazuki provides a selection of fresh seafood, meat, and vegetables in their Viking restaurant, “Silk River”, Cafe Sanaburi with their desserts and light snacks, with seats situated on the terrace, and a modern restaurant with a lounge that provides a gastronomic experience in private dining rooms. A noodle shop, “Iroha” is also available and offers Chinese and Japanese dishes.
Kinugawa Park Hotels is a traditional Japanese inn with modern hotel elements that features five indoor and open-air hot spring baths, an outdoor swimming pool and a cafe on a terrace. It also provides Japanese and Western-style accommodations with a sitting area and a view of the Kinugawa river or the Japanese gardens. Guests are welcome to enjoy themselves in the large communal bath options, ranging from indoor to open-air, as well as a private bath. Or they may opt to explore the art galleries, the club, restaurant, or the cafe.
There are various other sites worth visiting around the onsen like the Seiryuko and Shiryugabuchi, as well as the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a World Heritage Site. Of course, visitors can also go strawberry picking in Nikko Hanaichimonme–a favorite spot amongst families with children. A famous landmark in the area is the 140-meter- long suspended footbridge that connects Kinugawa with Tateiwa–a 100-meter high rock. Visitors could also opt to stay off their feet and go sightseeing on the Kinugawa Onsen Ropeway and see the “Monkey Mountain” where a drove of monkeys can be seen and be offered food. One of the stops is also the famous Onsen-jinja Shrine, a branch of the Toyokawa Inari-jinja, known for its red “toriis” or shrine gate.
Tourists around the area also enjoy a visit to the Nikko Yumeji Takehisa Museum, which features the works of Yumeji Takehisa, a famous romanticism painter in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). There is also the Nikko Edo-mura, “Edo Wonderland”, an amusement park reminiscent of the Edo-era architecture with locals dressed as Ninjas or Oiran, a courtesan from the Edo period. There are also performances inspired by the Genroku period (1688-1704) and Kyoho period (1716-1736).
The hot spring in Kinugawa onsen has a mild alkaline quality, making it colorless and transparent. The low concentration of minerals, in comparison to steaming hot springs, makes this ideal and safe for children and the elderly. Visitors can conveniently visit Kinugawa Onsen directly from Asakusa Station in Tokyo.
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