Sunday, June 3, 2018

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Misasa Onsen 三朝温泉, Yakushi no yu 薬師の湯, Kawaraburo 河原風呂

Visited 19.04.2015 (Sun)


Take a stroll. After checking in to Mansuirou, the hotel which we stayed for the night in Misasa Onsen, it was time to step out to explore the hot spring town. There are three main bridges spanning across Misasa River (三朝川). Misasa Bridge 三朝橋 is the most exquisite one out of the three; with beautiful stone made fence and decorated by traditional Japanese style lighting along its sides. At Kajika Bridge かじか橋, visitors can enjoy the foot bath located at the center of the bridge. At Koitani Bridge 恋谷橋, visitors can touch the figurine of Kajika Frog which is said to bring good relationships; there are even two frog shaped structures placed on both sides for visitors to hang their wooden wishing boards (known as ema) on and wish for good luck. Regardless of which bridge you are at, the view overlooking Misasa River from all of them is superb and the gushing sound made by the flowing waters the river felt so therapeutic to the ears, especially in this quaint little town. Though I had explore the town twice on my first day here (before and after dinner), I was eager to walk around in the town again on the following morning to immerse myself into this laid back atmosphere for one last time.

Misasa Bridge 三朝橋, the most beautifully constructed one out of the three.

Kajika Bridge かじか橋

Koitani Bridge 恋谷橋
Public baths and foot baths. There are two public bathhouses, named Tamawari no yu たまわりの湯 and Kabu-yu 株湯, here in Misasa Onsen. The former is located just beside the tourist information center, at one end of Misasa Bridge, while the latter is situated closer to Koitani Bridge. Apart from that, there are four foot bath pools in different parts of the town where visitors can stop by to soak their feet.


Misasa Onsen Ryokan Cooperative: http://spa-misasa.jp/eng/radium/

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Highlights:

(1) Onsen Hondori 温泉本通り
This is a street where a sense of nostalgia can be felt. Here you can find locals still sustaining their livelihood with their skills and trade. One of them is Kajikawa barber shop 梶川理髪館, easily identified by the trademark barber’s pole, continues to serve the people here faithfully. Even if you are not patronising any hair dressing service, visitors are welcome to look at the owner's huge collection of antiques put on display in the barber shop. Apart from the regular souvenirs shop, cafes, eateries and ryokan locating along the street, there is even a shop where old school fun fair games can be enjoyed!
- Kajikawa barber shop 梶川理髪館: http://barber.394u.jp/




(2) Yakushi no yu 薬師の湯
Operating hours: 0900 - 2200 hrs
Approx 2 mins walk from Misasa Onsen Kanko Shoko Center mae 三朝温泉観光商工センター前

This is one of the four footbaths in Misasa Onsen town, and is located about half way mark of Onsen Hondori. Apart from enjoying a rewarding soak for the feet here, there are tea cups provided here for people to take a sip of the hot spring waters flowing out from the center of the facility (the water comes from an outlet different from the footbath). Situated beside the footbath is a display wall named Onsen Monogatari-kan 温泉物語館 where precious pictures depicting the history of Misasa Onsen are showcased. In fact, there are many such galleries that served as mini museums, located in different parts of the town for visitors to explore and discover more about this place.

Yakushi no yu on the right and Onsen Monogatari-kan on the left.


(3) Kawaraburo 河原風呂
Operating hours: 24 hours

Looking down at the river from Misasa Bridge, you will first see a footbath (ashiyu 足湯). Behind the wooden shelf, there is a outdoor pool / rotenburo which is free for anyone to use. However, the barrier that everyone have to overcome is to strip naked and bathe openly in the public. Forget about the blinds since they do not cover the sides entirely and open up when the wind blows... Having said that, you will be surprised by the number of people who did not feel embarrassed to do so (so far, I only saw guys daring enough to try it).

Managed to venture into Kawaraburo early next morning to see how the rotenburo look like when no one was using the facility. Since the outdoor pool is as close as it can be to Misasa River, a privileged view of the river at grade level can be seen from here. In fact, it feels as if you are soaking in the river rather than in a pool.




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Misasa Onsen 三朝温泉




How to get there? 

(1) Hinomaru bus (日の丸バス) via Misasa line (三朝線), from Kurayoshi JR Station (倉吉駅).
There are regular bus services (hourly) commuting between Kurayoshi JR Station and Misasa Onsen. Board the bus from the train station and alight at Misasa Onsen Kanko Shoko Center Mae (in front of Misasa Onsen Tourist Information Center; 三朝温泉観光商工センター前). Bus journey is about 25 mins; fare = 470 yen.
Bus schedule
- Weekdays: http://www.hinomarubus.co.jp/kousoku_rosen/pdf/jikokuhyo/k-004.pdf
- Weekends: http://www.hinomarubus.co.jp/kousoku_rosen/pdf/jikokuhyo/k-104.pdf

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Video: Taiwanese singer, A-Lin, was the travel promotion ambassador for Chugoku region in 2017.

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