Stroll through an onsen village in the mountains
Located in a small mountain village away from Kumamoto and even Oita Prefecture’s Beppu, there are 20 Japanese-style inns cozily hugging both sides of the Tanoharu River Valley at an altitude of 700m. The integrated appearance of the black roofs and clay walls of the ryokan and stores is in splendid harmony with the natural environment along the river as a beautiful townscape spreads out. Formerly known as a hot spring which effectively healed injuries, Kurokawa Onsen has received an unprecedented 2 stars on the 2009 Michelin Green Guide, and it’s said that reservations are hard to get at the popular ryokan. Every inn has its own source spring with 7 kinds of water available so that visitors can enjoy a variety of baths depending on the inn.
Tour the open-air baths with an onsen-hopping pass
There are many elegant open-air baths which face the river, and to access them, you should get the popular onsen-hopping pass at Kurokawa Onsen. Purchasing the pass at any of the ryokan, you can take a bath at any 3 of the ryokan onsen you like. You can even show the pass at any of the shops in the town to receive special benefits. The inexpensive public bath Kurokawa Jizo-yu which is known to be the original bath at Kurokawa Onsen is located at Igozaka, and at Jizo-do Hall which is right next to it, there are anecdotes of the jizo statues which represent the dutiful sons with even headless jizo being enshrined. When onsen-hopping passes which have been used up are offered at Jizo-do Hall, it is said that good fortune in love and work is granted.
Enjoying drinking and cycling
There is also a Kappo Pass for you to enjoy the local sake and shochu so that you can walk around while partaking in up to 3 cups of sake from any of the inns and shops. As well, there is an audio guide system that can be rented so that the highlights at Kurokawa Onsen can be introduced in Japanese and English. Along with a stroll through the town while wearing a yukata, walking a bit further to enjoy Mother Nature is also recommended. Some 4 kilometers away, you can get a panoramic view of Mt. Aso from the Hiranodai Viewpoint.