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    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
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        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
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        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
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        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
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        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
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        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
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        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
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        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
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        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
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        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
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        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
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        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Races and Events
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
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        In nearly e...

Bathe Away the Blues

You’ve spent the last couple of months cursing the heat and humidity, yet you can’t help but lament the passing of summer. As the first of the autumn breezes arrives, bringing with it the early signs of the cold months ahead, you need something to take your mind off the sense of loss that nags at you. You need a distraction. You need a hot bath.

Nestled at the foot of the Kuju Mountain Range in Kumamoto, Kyushu, awaits just the solution needed to alleviate the doubt that fall can be just as promising as summer. Kurokawa – onsen, described by many as the “hidden village,” unfolds along a crystal clear stream.

The surrounding foliage, promising all the spectacle of autumn, adds to the feeling of remoteness and hides the fact that you are merely minutes away from a major thoroughfare. In recent years, the small town has become a Mecca of outdoor bathing in Japan, especially to the younger set that flocks here in droves all throughout the year. By day, the village becomes a streaming mass of tourists, although not overly so.

At night, however, is when the magic kicks in, and you are left with nothing but your thoughts and the sound of the brook gurgling its way through the town.

A town ordinance was passed a number of years back, ensuring there is none of the ostentation that can be associated with some of Japan’s popular hot spring resorts. Rather every effort is made to distract as little as possible from the enclosing landscape.

The hotels and inns number fewer than 30, and most are styled to resemble the Japan of old, adding a feeling of nostalgia to the ever-present tranquility. Accommodation is priced to suit almost every budget, ranging from reasonable to a-wee-bit expensive, but in no way out of reach for the average punter. Spend the night, and be prepared to enjoy an exceptionally healthy meal. Local cuisine includes wild vegetables in abundance from the surrounding mountains), sweet-fish and the area’s specialty, raw horsemeat.Try it before you turn up your nose; it really is quite tasty. Chefs from each hotel share recipes so, regardless of where you stay, the treats are equally good. Wash it all down with any one of the local choshu (a kind of alcohol made from potatoes or wheat) available.

The booze can be drunk in vast quantities without much fear of hangovers or regrets the following morning.
Those with a sweet tooth will take delight in the local cake shop that specializes in cream éclairs and roll cakes. It also bakes a variety of cookies. The store is well known throughout Japan for the “cake-set,” so get in early to avoid disappointment.

For those staying the night, check into your hotel (between 2 and 3 p.m.) and be shown to your room, where you can spend a few minutes sipping the complimentary tea while listening to the obligatory welcome speech from one of the staff members. Formalities dispensed, throw off your clothes, and don the provided yukata. 

Next it’s time to get down to the serious business of bathing. Overnighters will be handed a bathing pass which allows them to enjoy a choice of three hot springs in other hotels. There are 25 rotemburo (outdoor baths) from which to choose. By far the most popular and the most interesting would have to be Shinmeikan, which offers separate bathing in a cave and mixed bathing outside under a thatched roof.

The snake-like cavern has all sorts of nooks and crannies, providing the perfect place to enjoy relaxed bathing. Outside the entrance, spend a few moments enjoying the warmth of the open hearth (it can get quite chilly), and pay your respects to the local rooster who appears to rule that particular roost.

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Day-trippers are not forgotten, and ¥1,200 buys a small wooden medallion extending the same three-bath privilege. Most of the hot springs are open from 8:30 or 9 a.m. with the remainder opening at 11 a.m. The majority stay open until 10 p.m. Those wishing to make the most of their time should plan to arrive in Kurokawa by 8:30 a.m.The hordes don’t arrive by bus until around 10 a.m., giving you an hour or so of relaxed bathing. Be warned; it can get quite busy on weekends.

Getting There

Access to Kurokawa is available via a combination of train, bus or taxi from any of Kyushu’s major cities. The nearest stations are quite a distance away, and I would not recommend using public transport unless you plan to stay overnight. Rather, hire a car from Kumamoto City and drive along Route 57. The road is smooth and well signed.

Web Connection

Travel Info: www.hyperdia.com
Kurokawa Accommodation: www.japaneseguesthouses.com

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