Day 2 of our trip and we would be making a side trip to Kawaji Onsen! Kawaji Hot Spring is located in northern Tochigi prefecture in the northern part of the Kanto region. So far, we've been to Nikko, Kinugawa and Yunishigawa (which are all onsen towns close by), so I thought it would be good to explore another different onsen town.
We took our time to pack and check-out, leaving our big luggage with the hotel and proceeded to Shinjuku. Had lunch at my favourite Matsuya fast food eatery where you purchase your food ticket via a vending machine and hand it to the service staff. The food available is similar to Yoshinoya, but somehow we prefer Matsuya. I ordered a grilled pork set which came with a generous serving of pork belly, miso soup, rice and cabbage salad. Hubby ordered a kimchi stew set. Food at Matsuya is always value-for-money and satisfying. (That said, I tried Yoshinoya in SG before and standards simply cannot compare to the ones in Japan).
After lunch, we walked around Shinjuku a bit and then proceeded to the platform to wait for our Limited Express train bound for Kinugawa Onsen at 1301hrs. In Japan it's always better to be early and standby at the platform because when the train ticket says 1301hrs, it literally leaves at 1301hrs. Moreover, Shinjuku station is huge and may not be easy to locate the exact platform, so lead time is important. Many years ago, we got lost trying to locate a train platform and had to run for our lives to catch the train just before it departed.
The train ride took almost 2hrs, and as we approached the countryside, we were greeted with lovely views of nature. It was early winter, so no snow yet, and the autumn foliage was already over. But still, beautiful.
The train ended the service at Kinugawa-Onsen station and we had to change to another train bound for Kawaji-Yumoto Station.
The next train ride took about 15 mins, and we reached Kawaji-Yumoto Station.
Bye bye train as it continued it's journey towards Yunishigawa and beyond.
Kawaji-Yumoto Station is small and rustic and not a single soul around (apart from the station master who collected ticket payment from us).
There we have it, KAI Kawaji Ryokan. I'm very particular when it comes to selecting resorts/hotels during our vacation, especially ryokans. Would conduct extensive research on the internet, read reviews, look at photos. Very excited to have found KAI Kawaji and I must say the property certainly impressed both hubby and I, in terms of the hospitality, rooms, onsen, food and ambience. Total price was 36000 yen nett, and that's inclusive of a kaiseki dinner and breakfast, which I would say quite a fair price to pay considering the overall quality we got. Thumbs up!
Very zen-looking reception area.
We were ushered to take a seat near the full-glass window.
Japanese hospitality, cold towel and tea, and personalised check-in. We just needed to chill and relax.
The amountains and trees were almost stripped bare, I could imagine the beauty during winter where the whole place would be snowy and white. And even as it was, beautiful enough for me.
I had booked a Superior Tatami Suite with River View and we were brought by the hostess to level 7.
The room was huge, with two queen beds, comfy lounge sofa and a sunken kotatsu (low, wooden table frame covered by heavy blanket, underneath is a heat source)
If there are more than 2 guests, additional futons can be laid to accommodate for 2 or even 3 more people.
The wash area is big and all the essential toiletries are provided. Basically you don't have to bring a single thing to stay here.
There's also an in-room bathtub (not spring water, just tap) but we never ever use the in-room bath because of the onsen, which is the whole point about coming to an onsen area :) Which unless of course your room comes with a private ofuro with natural spring water piped in. But still, our preference is always to visit to the public bath because it's much more spacious and I usually select ryokans based on the scenery offered for the open-air onsen.
Complimentary Furoshiki for guests to bring home as souvenirs! Furoshiki is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth made of different fabrics, traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods.
Apparently each Hoshino Resorts has its own Furoshiki design. Now this makes me wanna stay at all the different properties in order to collect the designs!
Excited about what the resort has to offer yet? Stay tuned for the next post, more about the resort and the onsen!