A Trip to Takayu Onsen in Fukushima

So it has been quite a while since my last blog post in December 2016. There were many excuses: I have been quite busy these days; I had no mood to write lately; I was waiting for the right time to post. Enough is enough and now I decided to write something new to kick off my blog in 2017! Let’s begin the year with a wintry entry.

Some time ago in January, my friend Annisa asked me if I would like to join her and other friends going to Takayu Onsen in Fukushima. Normally I am not really a big fan of onsen, considering I could only survive inside the hot, steamy bath for less than an hour, but this time I said ‘why not’ and went on with the plan. Could be a good chance to go somewhere new.

Takayu Onsen is a collection of hot springs scattered around a small resort town around an hour by bus from Fukushima city. It is probably one of the few tourist attractions that could be found close to Fukushima, and it is really accessible. Getting off the train from Sendai to Fukushima in the station, we just had to take one bus to Takayu Onsen, of which the bus terminal is just located in front of the station west exit.

And just like that we had arrived in Takayu Onsen complex. Since we missed the stop to Tamago-yu, a ryokan (Japanese inn) that we would like to visit for our higaeri-onsen (day-trip spa), we had to trace back from the last stop to Tamago-yu. But it was no problem because the snowy view was just awesome on that day. Plus we found te-yu (hand spa) along the way, which was a boon.

Arriving in Tamago-yu, we found out that day-trip spa is only available until mid-afternoon. Since the inn is primarily accommodating for overnight-staying guests, the time limitation is well understandable. We then just went our way and entered the bath with joy.

Tamago-yu is famous for its beautiful open-air bath, which is located in front of natural hill overlooking the inn. From the big window at the reception, guests could see the panorama of the outdoor bath. I first went to the indoor bath, to clean and acclimate myself before heading to outside.

The indoor and outdoor bath are separated since they are located in the different wing. I had to rush getting to the outdoor bath since it was indeed such a cold day. But boy was I treated with an awesome selection of open-air baths. There is the symbol of Tamago-yu, a small shack fitted with hot springs underneath. There is also an open pool of hot water facing a cool facade of stones. Since I did not want to squeeze around au naturel with guys in the small shack, I chose the open pool. It was majestic. The sight of snow all over the spot, the hot steam rising from the water, the cool breeze blowing, all adding up to the experience.

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The open-air bath of Tamago-yu (Photo: courtesy of Annisa).

After finishing immersing myself in the open-air bath not even an hour (I told you I am weak with hot water), I went out and tried an ashi-yu (foot spa) near the bath. It was perfect to chill out there after the almost-scalding onsen.

I went back to the hotel lobby while waiting for my friends to finish their baths. While waiting I got my eyes on a very interesting piece of souvenirs sold in the hotel shop: onsen tamago (hot spring egg). These half-boiled eggs are supposedly churned using the natural sulfuric onsen hot water and thus have a distinct flavor. I do love eating them for breakfast after getting home.

The sun had slowly shifted to sundown when we left the inn and headed back to bus stop. One thing that I think is the downside of the inn is that they do not have a restaurant nearby, so for day-trippers for us it is quite a problem. Such a shame, because after the hot bath all we wanted was to munch on something tasty! They are missing such a business opportunity there.

As closing remarks, aside from Tamago-yu there are more ryokan to visit such as Adachiya. In front of Adachiya there is also Attaka no Yu, an outdoor public bath. I am particularly amazed that  this public facility looks super clean and well-maintained considering it is not owned by a hotel.


Access Information:  From Tokyo:

Take shinkansen from Tokyo Station and get off at Fukushima station ( ¥8750, approx 101 minutes). Then take bus to Takayu Onsen from west exit bus terminal (¥820, approx 30 minutes).

From Sendai:

Take shinkansen from Sendai station and get off at Fukushima station ( ¥3480, approx 21 minutes). OR take JR train from Sendai station and get off at Fukushima ( ¥1320, 83 minutes). Tips: get w-kippu (two way pass) for Sendai – Fukushima instead, it only costs  ¥1500. Then take bus to Takayu Onsen from west exit bus terminal (¥820, approx 30 minutes).

Useful Sites:  Japan Travel site for Takayu Onsen

Tamago-yu official site (Japanese)

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