As mentioned in my past post on Onsen, hot spring and its miraculous beauty skin effects, the Kawanaka Onsen in Gunma prefecture is one of the top 3 onsens rated for its results on the skin.
As autumn is one of the best seasons in Japan to go to the mountains, as you can enjoy the colourful autumn leaves, I decided to go and check by myself the famous Onsen with a friend.
Among the hot springs, Kawanaka Onsen is classified as a 秘湯(hito), meaning “secret bath”. It means that the hot spring, in contrary to numerous huge and popular hot springs regions, such as Hakone, is more hidden in the mountains, in a more intimate environment.
How to get to Kawanaka Onsen:
You can take a bus from Shinjuku and then change to the Agatsuma line train to reach Yugawara Onsen station. It takes about 3 hours. There are faster options by taking the bullet train. Then somebody from the inn will come and pick you up.
The “Kadohan Ryokan” inn:
As the definition of Hito indicates, the inn was located in the middle of the mountains, isolated from any other residential. We could hear the river from our room.
The place was a big traditionally styled ryokan, very clean and tidy. The room was small but cosy and warm with all the bath amenities, room wear and even free new socks to keep warm, as well as a tea set. The futon was soft and very comfy.
The food was simple with nothing outstanding in term of contents or taste, but well presented and OK.
There is a man only bath, a women only bath and the major and the biggest one which is the mixte bath. The two first have only a bath inside. The mixte one has a bath inside and one open-air. It can become women exclusive for certain hours of the day.
The water was around 39C which is VERY tepid for an onsen! We were recommended to stay at least 30 min to 1 hour to let the core of the body warmed up.
Usually the onsen is hotter: around 41 to 43C. Even at home when we take a bath, we set the water temperature so. However because it is hotter, we cannot stay that long in the bath, otherwise it can create a rush of the blood to the head and we will feel dizzy. So it’s really unusual to stay that long in a bath. But because it was so tepid, we could stay even more than an hour.
The water was pleasantly velvety and almost colorless. A slight odor of sulfur could be smelled but not too strong.
Because of the mountainous environment and the limit of the old installations, the showers had very low water pressure, which made it almost impossible to rinse the shampoo off. We used the water from the onsen tab to rinse us off.
We definitely enjoyed our experience, however because of this tepid water and the old installations, this onsen is not ideal for onsen beginners.After this long bath, we felt the warmth seeping into our bones. The relaxation effect is guaranteed especially with the open-air bath where you enjoy the fresh air of the mountains with the murmur of the river as music to ears. The skin was left very soft and moist unlike when you get out of the home shower after what you rush to apply moisturising cream all over to prevent skin dehydration.
Last but not least…
The hospitality of this inn was amazing. It was hold by a family and they were so helpful with providing you with information about the surroundings, giving you tips about anything and so smiley and caring!
And the best proof of this onsen being one of the best beauty skin onsens, is the lady of the house!! She is in her 50’s and she has such a flawless and clear skin, it was amazing! Not an ageing spot could be found on her face!!
So what else than her can be a better draw at this beauty skin onsen?!