Hot spring experience in Wulai near Taipei

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Pause Landis hot spring

Hot Springs play a very important part in our holidays, having a Japanese wife and having lived in Japan for the last fifteen years, the soothing hot water makes you want to experience it in other countries which are rich in volcanic soil perfect for forming hot Springs. Continue reading “Hot spring experience in Wulai near Taipei”

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Our Review of Kosenkaku Ryokan in Arima Hot springs

Choosing a ryokan in Japan is a difficult task as they come in all different shapes and sizes some are small operations ran by an elderly couple while others are large with over 100 rooms.  We suggest you choose a ryokan that has its own hot springs and provide meals that are included in the price. Ryokans are often located in isolated places and they serve the best meals known as Kaiseki Ryori which is a course meal using local ingredients.

Recently we stayed at Kosenkaku, a ryokan located in Arima Hot springs. We stayed for one night which included dinner and breakfast so without further ado, this is our review.

Location

Kosenkaku is located in the charming traditional village of Arima, one of the oldest  hot spring towns in Japan. Arima is conveniently located near Kobe which can be reached in 20 minutes by train. Osaka is only a short bus ride away and only takes around an hour to get there. To get to Kosenkaku cross the bridge in the heart of town and access is up the hill.

Check in

We were greeted by a man at the archways of the property who took our bags and directed us to the lobby to be checked in. Japanese service at ryokans are always of high standards and here was no exceptions. We waited in the lobby with hot towels and an ice cold drink before being driven to our room in a golf cart. Kosenkaku is one of those big properties that I mentioned above. The cart stopped at the hot springs and restaurant  showing us around the property before taking us to the room.

Rooms

Kosenkaku actually has two kinds of rooms, the traditional rooms with tatami floors and where the futon gets layed out on the floor and you sleep there unfortunately for first time travellers to Japan this is probably the kind of experience you are looking for but we stayed in the log cabins  which were spacious sleep I think up to six people upstairs and had a spacious living room as well wait for it…….It’s very own spa.

We loved the room spending a lazy day in the spa or on our veranda where we played cards, sat around talking and generally just relaxing. The WIFI worked fine in the room at good speeds but we hardly used it as we really just wanted to get away from it all. Hot springs can do that to you

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Food

Food for me is usually the make or break part of any trip to a ryokan.  What I liked about the meal here was that the volume wasn’t too much, usually after eating at a ryokan you are so full that you really start to feel uncomfortable but at Kosenkaku you were first served a plate with four dishes, a salad, some sashimi, pork that is usually used for ramen and a green brocoli tasting jelly like dish. Next there was the chicken soup followed up by the tender Kobe beef grilled perfectly served with paprika and garlic chips.  Still feeling hungry dessert was green tea ice cream, banana cake and pudding.

Arima is located in a rural area so not much fish like you would find at a ryokan that was located by the sea which I prefer but the food was still of a good standard. Staying here also gives you the chance to try Kobe beef.

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Hot Springs

What you have all been waiting for, what were the hot springs like.

Hot springs in Arima became famous for the medicinal value. The waters have been known to help heal ailments so many people come each year to soak in the hot springs and hopefully improve their health.

The hot springs in Arima come in two colours either a redish brown colour that is known in Japanese as Kinsen which gets its colouring from the rich content of iron and sodium. The other is ginsen which is colourless and contains radium and carbonate. These hot springs are next to each other but both are located inside a room I and didn’t have an amazing view of the sea or nature that you find in some hot springs where there baths are located outside.  What we did like was that the bath wasn’t scorching hot like you find at some hot springs.

After coming home I did some research to find out that there are no outdoor hot springs in Arima.

Overall

If you are looking for a place to relax and haven’t been to a hot spring or stayed at a ryokan by the time you are in Kansai then I definitely recommend for you to stay here because of its rich history and its medicinal value. They are one of the most famous hot springs in Japan however I love an outdoor hot spring and there is nothing better from jumping between indoor and outdoor springs.

The food is good but have had much better from other ryokans plus we really love seafood. The food here doesn’t blow your minds like you get at other ryokans but the Kobe steak is really good.

The log cabins are great but this might not be for everyone especially first time visitors to Japan. They do though have more traditional rooms.

Something I haven’t mentioned is this ryokan also has an indoor swimming pool that not many ryokans have. It is only opened during the Summer months though.

Would we stay here again. I think we would. It’s close to where we live and we really did love the log cabin with the spa in its room. We will leave it up to you to decide if you would stay here.

What do you think, would you stay at this ryokan? Let us know in the comment section below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hot spring experience in Japan

Everyone seems hesitate at first to experience their first hot spring, the nerves of bathing naked in front of strangers , in front of people who  look totally different to you. You will feel it’s natural for them to want to take a peak. After all you have a different shape and body type to the Japanese that you will be sharing the hotspring with.  There is no need to worry as this most likely won’t happen.

Your nerves, your apprehension to be naked in front of someone shouldn’t be enough to stop you from experiencing a hot spring while you are in Japan.

Fortunately, I’ve never had a fear of dropping my strides, don’t get me wrong I’ve never been a stripper or anything. Though I have to admit I have once dropped them on the stage at a sports function performing at a players concert with the soundtrack of The Full Monty but that is another story………..

There’s also the added pressure of following protocol. What happens if I do something wrong. Don’t worry about it first of all wash your body like you would at home, make sure you have rinsed all the soap off your body and then take a dip in the hot spring.

Remember the springs are not to be swam in, just relax and soak in the natural minerals that are good for your body. The water temperature may feel hot at first as the temperature is usually around 45 degrees but your body will soon adjust and the aches and pains from a full day of sightseeing will soothe away.

If there are two hot springs one being indoor the other being outdoor then bathe in the indoor one first before moving to the outdoor one, feel free to move back and forth if you like.

When finished change back into your clothes or the hotels yukata which is similar to a kimono. Feel free to walk around the hotel/ ryokan that you are staying at and also the surrounding areas outside.

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If you’re really concerned about having a hot spring in front of others then quite a few places have a couples hotspring which you pay extra to use and can then bathe with your partner, family or friend. The photo taken above is a jacuzzi using hotspring water which was actually in our room.

Dinner Time

If you’re staying at a Ryokan, a Japanese style hotel then the meal that they serve will be amazing. I recommend having dinner at the ryokan because a lot of ryokans are located in an isolated area far from other restaurants .

The food for me is just as good as the hot spring and overall makes a great experience. If your ryokan is near the sea then you will be served a course of seafood consisting of fish, sushi and sashimi. During the Winter months if the area is famous for crab then this will also be part of the course.

If the ryokan is located in a rural area in the mountains then the meal will consist of  local vegetables and meat dishes consisting of pork or beef.

The food will be served delicately on a dish, served in tiny portions but the dishes will keep coming and soon you will be struggling to end your meal. The last dish is usually a small plate of fresh fruit grown in the region.

There are sometimes two choices for you to have your dinner either served in the main restaurant or sometimes served in your room. You will also be given two choices for the meal time usually 6.30 or 7.30pm.

If you have your meal at the restaurant,  when you have returned to your room you will discover that your futons(Japanese style mattress) has been laid out on the tatami (Japanese straw matted floor).

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Sleep Time

The futons will make for a great sleep, especially if it’s Winter time, the smug tight fitted cover will keep you nice and cozy but even after all these years of living in Japan I would rather sleep without the rock hard Japanese pillows and this is no exaggeration when I say this. I’m sure you will have a great sleep and wake up refreshed which is exactly what the hotspring experience is supposed to do.

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Have you experience a hot spring in Japan or another country? We would love to hear about your experience.