Japan Tour Review
Takaragawa Onsen 宝川温泉 汪泉閣 is one of the best hotspring hotels in Japan. The major attraction is its four huge outdoor onsen pools. Three of the pools are mixed gender baths 混浴, and one is reserved for women only. The scenery around the open-air hotspring pools 露天風呂 is particularly amazing in autumn with colorful maple leaves and in winter with heavy thick snow, in contrast to the steamy hot spring. At some lucky moments, ladies may see totally naked guys running from pool to pool. FYI: In Japan, males are stripped naked without clothes in onsen. Totally exposed.
Besides its onsen attraction, the hotel is a traditional Japanese ryokan (or inn). With its exquisite Edo architecture style, guests can experience authentic Japanese culture, ranging from wearing Japanese yukata kimono to enjoying multi-course kaiseki dinner in traditional Japanese room, and sleeping in traditional Japanese futon on tatami floor.
Being a ryokan, it offers both accommodation and meals in one price. The cost of accommodation is thus charged per person, rather than per room. The more people stay in one room, the higher the accommodation fee but at slightly reduced rate per capita for each room.
Besides the onsen experience, there is also a hiking trail all the way up to the top of the mountain overlooking the Takaragawa River, but it’s closed in the winter. There are also a few shrines around the hot spring pools, some antique display, and three cages for black bears. A lot of tourists from Western countries complain about locking those bears in the cages and argue that the bears should be living in the wild. Seriously?! Personally I don’t see what the fuss is about. As long as the bears are well taken care of, it’s no different from a zoo. Furthermore, Japan is a highly populated country with limited land resources. It’s not like Canada, American, Brazil, or Argentina where there are vast areas of lands available for animals to roam free and wild. Japan has about 1/3 of USA population and only 1/26 of USA land size. Takaragawa Onsen hotel also offers “bear soup” in its dinner. Again, westerners complains about this controversial soup. Seriously?! The soup tastes like a mixture of herbal medicine without any meats of any kind. It’s just a soup name. What’s all the fuss about it? Go figure!
Takaragawa Onsen is often featured in the top three onsen destinations in Japan. If you want to visit this amazing inn in a particular season or month, book early!!! I book my reservation in early September for my late December trip. The hotel gets booked up very fast.