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Posts Tagged ‘Destination New Sweden’

Touring Around the Land of Onsen, Satsuma, Kagoshima

September 6th, 2010 Comments off
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Myoken Onsen foot bathKyushu, the land of volcano, is a treasure-box of onsen (hot springs). Foot bath is seen here and there, as well as reasonable outdoor bath using fresh hot water directly from the source. Soaking into the hot bath will warm up the body which is very good for health. There is a whole variety of the quality of the water with different positive effects to our body, and it is certainly a great joy to travel around in search of favorite hot springs. That said, touring around for onsen is not necessarily a plush entertainment. Indulging in luxurious ryokan (onsen inn) is also nice, but if you are an outdoor person, you may want to enjoy the solitude bathing in the wild, or try small public baths with a human touch. Be it simple and small, these onsens are as “powerful” as high-class Japanese inns. Meanwhile, “Kirishima onsen” and the surrounding hot springs are starting to attract attention before the opening of Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) next spring. Heated up by the Ryoma Sakamoto boom, this onsen area is currently Japan’s “hottest” onsen paradise.

Soaking in a Secret hot spring in Kirishima, the Onsen Town Ryoma Visited

Ryoma ParkThanks to NHK’s period drama “Ryoma-den,” Nagasaki and Kagoshima has been receiving nationwide attention, especially in Kagoshima where it used to be the feudal domains of Shimazu family of Satsuma clan and the place where historical icons of late Edo period thrived, including Nariakira Shimazu, Takamori Saigo, and Tatewaki Komatsu. Most of all, it is said that Kagoshima was the first honeymoon destination for a Japanese, as Ryoma and Oryu were the first Japanese couple to go for a honeymoon; in this way, Kagoshima has deep connections to the patriots of late Edo period. Until today, Kirishima and the surrounding hot spring villages are loved by many people.

Kirishima hot spring village consists of eight onsen in different size, upwelling from the heart of Mount Kirishima. All eight onsen is located between 600 m to 800 m above sea level, varying in spring quality but all with positive effects to our body. Gas with sulfurous odor constantly blows up from the fumarolic area in the center of the hot spring village. Nearby, there are scenic spots such as Nunobiki falls, vast plateau of Senjojiki, and rock bath which is said to be the oldest in Kirishima, with high-end onsen inns and hotels, becoming the mecca of Kirishima sightseeing.

Also, though it completely changed over the time, there are hot springs related to the patriotic samurais in the late Edo period, such as “Shiobitashi onsen” visited by Ryoma and Oryu for Ryoma’s recuperation (currently Shiobitashi Onsen Ryoma Park where statue of Ryoma and Oryu stand), and “Eno onsen” where Tatewaki Komatsu cured his body. In contrast to luxurious onsen, Kirishima still has classical and casual hot springs with a rustic flavor. Hydropathic guest houses and simple leisurely bath stand along Amori River from Hamanoichi (currently called Hayato-cho) to Kirishima. To name a few, there are Hinatayama onsen, Myoken onsen, and Anraku onsen. Though it is not glamorous, there are good local hot springs with a history. Every one of these onsen is filled with human warmth that can be enjoyed in a reasonable price.

For example, “Kirishima Yunotani Sanso” of Yunotani Onsen is a hot spring in the old rustic hydropathic style, situated on the way to Kirishima Shrine from Kirishima Onsen. The bath use hot spring in a Kakenagashi style (having fresh hot water directly from the source without circulation) where you get to enjoy both transparent sulphur bath and white milky carbonic sulphur bath called ramune-sen at the same time. Forget about the hustle-bustle of the city and immerse yourself into the warm water to enjoy the blissful moment. You can also drop by the public bath regularly used by the locals. “Fukuju Onsen” along Route 223 and “Segodon-no-yu” near JR Hayato station is a typical onsen with a human warmth in the countryside.

“Fukuju Onsen”

This is a simple and nostalgic onsen near Kagoshima airport, loved by the locals as a relaxing public bath. The bathing area is aging, but uses fresh and natural hot spring in an excellent quality. The entrance fee is only 100 yen with a foyer provided to take a rest after the bath. From the effectiveness against neuralgia and healthy drinkable hot spring, Many people come from afar as regular customers to this onsen.

“Segodon-no-yu”

This is a natural hot spring in Kakenagashi style, situated within Hinatayama onsen village in front of Hayato station, the final stop of Hisatsu Line. Kirishima mountain range can be observed in the north, and Sakurajima in the south. While there are many public bath in town, “Segodon-no-yu” is the source of the distinguished Hinatayama onsen. “Segodon-no-yu” is named after the virtue of Takamori Saigo, the hero of Meiji Restoration, who visited this area for fishing after the Boshin War. Nearby, there is a relocated hut with a thatched roof where Mr. Saigo used to stay.

Entry to the bath costs 250 yen. Many locals drop by to bathe in the morning to freshen up before they start their day. Bright bath room surrounded by opaque glass window and tiled bathtub. The light hot water is colorless, transparent, and quite hot. Here, they also have a special tap to drink hot spring water. Shochu (distilled spirit) would certainly taste great mixing this hot spring water. What a luxury to have a hot spring directly from the source in everyday life!

If you are looking for a more primitive onsen, how about trying “Wake-no-yu” in Myoken onsen and “Me-no-yu/ Kawa-no-yu,” a bath in the wild in Kirishima onsen village? You will pretty much feel as if you become one with nature, soaking into the outdoor bath gushing out by the river, opened seven days a week. There are no place to get changed, so you do need to be well prepared to bathe here, but it is worthwhile to enjoy the real joy indulging in an onsen. The coming autumn season would be even more better to do so.

various onsens in Kyushu

Myoken Onsen “Wake-no-yu”

“Wake-no-yu” near Myoken onsen is also an old onsen Ryoma visited and it is said to be Japan’s oldest outdoor bath. Located near Route 470, scenic spots related to Ryoma is also see, including Wake Shrine and Inukai waterfall. It is a custom to place some small change as a sign of gratitude. The outdoor bath is along the river, adding a wild flavor to the atmosphere. It is also a great place conveniently located near Kagoshima airport.

“Me-no-yu/ Kawa-no-yu”

This is an onsen in the wild that developed in a sulfuric rivulet near the entrance to Kirishima Maruo Nature Path, in the center of Kirishima onsen with fume rising in the air. “Me-no-yu” is a very hot transparent water puddled in a niche of a rock. A signboard is placed by the rock which reads “The oldest rock bath in Japan.”

On the other hand, “Kawa-no-yu” is a milky sulfuric spring that flows in from the fumarolic area of the hot spring. The hot spring flows along the craggy cliff, and pools of hot water is seen here and there in the rock. Nobody charges entrance fee in these two wild onsen, but you will need a lot of courage to bathe naked as it is along the walking path. Instead, you can try bathing your feet.

Source: Travel Vision

Travel Vision Inc. provides information on the travel industry in Japan via "Daily Travel Vision", a Japanese-language e-mail newsletter, and the "Travel Vision" website. There are nearly 110,000 people working in the Japanese travel industry, and Travel Vision is proud to be bringing travel news to more than 30,000 people through Daily Travel Vision.

“Revitalizing the Town with Lemongrass” Home to Onsen and Ceramics—Takeo, Saga Prefecture

November 2nd, 2009 Comments off
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Lemongrass TeaLemongrass is a popular herb often used in tea. Originally, this poaceous plant has been cultivated in the tropics such as Thailand, but from global warming, nowadays it started to be cultivable in Kyushu area as well, and this is where Takeo City in Saga, a prefecture in Kyushu spotted a business chance. Takeo City has attracted interest by the novel “Gabai Grandmother in Saga Prefecture,” but to achieve more recognition, the city became the producer of lemongrass since 2006.

Lemongrass grows easily with high production efficiency, and it is also a profitable agricultural product harvested by light work even for the elderly. On top of that, by utilizing unused land and abandoned arable land, lemongrass cultivation saves the city from its struggle in the measures to deal with agricultural lands in intermediate and mountainous areas. At first, the size of cultivation area was 22-are, but now it expanded to a size 9 times larger about 2 hectares. Accordingly, in less than two years, lemongrass has become a signature agricultural product of the city with a strong brand image that is even traded in major department stores in Tokyo and in popular organic confectionary shops as “Lemongrass Grown in Takeo.”

Takao City OnsenContaining a substance called citral, lemongrass is known for its aromatherapy effect to relax the body and soul. In addition, it also helps the intestinal functions as well as having a disinfecting effect, extremely useful not only for tea but also for recipes using herbs. Among those, shabu-shabu meal using “Wakakusu Pork” is attracting attention of the travelers. It is also a popular dish among the locals, and the taste of pork savored by soup stock is exquisite, and the scent of lemongrass stimulates the appetite. Other original dishes has been created, for example, lemongrass-steamed meat and vegetables. There are some dishes that use lemongrass as a secret ingredient.

The town revitalizing activities using lemongrass goes beyond “food,” even to “art.” Being neighbors with Karatsu City, a town famous for its pottery, Takeo also has many kilns producing high-leveled ceramics including Karatsu-yaki. Lemongrass is used as a glaze for the earthenware, and it started to attract attention giving a unique taste in the art piece. There are still more to write about lemongrass in Takeo. Lemongrass is also making the town vivid by being the subject of the collaboration with local tourism and specialty.

One example is the Onsen. Takeo Onsen is one of Japan’s most famous hot springs with a history of 1300 years. The red tower gate is the symbol of the memory of the bygone days in this Onsen town,designated as national important asset, resembling the undersea kingdom that appear in a Japanese fable. This hot spring is also famous for preserving Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s vermilion seal note on the bathing rules, and is said to be a hot spring visited by many famous warlords and historical figures such as Masamune Date, Musashi Miyamoto, Seybold, Tadataka Ino, Shoin Yoshida.

The quality of the hot spring is weak alkaline, a simple thermal hot spring which helps to make the skin beautiful. There are many hot spring hotels and facilities around the area, where you can drop by to bathe. Among those traditional hot spring resorts, some started to set “Lemongrass Bathing Day” week to week.

As other events, “Romon Morning Market” is held every Sunday from 7:30am in front of the tower gate. Over 30 local shops participate in this morning market, selling fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as lemongrass jam and soap. More than being just a tourist spot, this market is also a pleasure and an important information center for the locals.

Source: Travel Vision

Travel Vision Inc. provides information on the travel industry in Japan via "Daily Travel Vision", a Japanese-language e-mail newsletter, and the "Travel Vision" website. There are nearly 110,000 people working in the Japanese travel industry, and Travel Vision is proud to be bringing travel news to more than 30,000 people through Daily Travel Vision.

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