Where: Wakayama Prefecture
So many of you expressed interest in a repeat of the 2009 fall tour that we are offering it again this spring. Best of all, we are keeping the price the same: just $1800 for 7 days and 6 nights in some of the best onsen Japan has to offer!
We'll be visiting the Kumano Kodo area in Wakayama Prefecture (a few hours by train from Osaka), which is truly one of the most stunning areas in all of Japan. Recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kumano region includes gorgeous bays, majestic mountains, deep forests, ancient shrines and pilgrimage routes, quaint villages...and best of all, sublime onsen, many of which rank as the best in all Japan. In spring, the cherry blossoms and other flowering trees will fill the mountainsides with color -- this area will be at its most beautiful. Get a bottle of sake, a wooden masu cup to float in the bath, a friend to share the soak with, and prepare to let all the stresses of the year fade away...
Here is the basic outline (subject to change):
|2||Shirahama||Hotel Musashi||Welcome dinner!|
|4||Kawayu Onsen||Fujiya Ryokan|
|5||Yunomine Onsen||Adumaya Ryokan|
|6||Katsuura Onsen||Ryokan Nakanoshima|
|7||Rakuda No Yu Onsen||(day trip)||Leave for Osaka|
|Cost (does not include airfare to Osaka): $1800 USD*|
The first two nights we will stay at Shirahama Onsen, about 3 hours by train from Osaka. This seaside onsen has a collection of public baths, a nice mix of restaurants, and several convenience stores -- making it the perfect place to relax and get over any jet lag. Of the baths, Sakinoyu is the most famous: a stunning spot right on the oceanside where you can soak looking out at the sea. Not to be missed. A beach makes for romantic strolls in the evening. Here you'll be able to unwind after your long trip and still be able to dash across the street if you get late night munchies or whatever.
Ryuujin Onsen (night 3): One of 3 official "Bijin no Yu" (Springs of Beauties), Ryuujin Onsen is where the Wakayama feudal lord came each year to relax and heal himself -- we will stay in one of the same buildings which he used. With stunning antique shoji screens and beautiful flower arrangements, you'll feel like you're staying overnight in a museum, not just a hotel. The food is fantastic and there are male, female, and kashikiri (private reservation) options right by a beautiful rushing mountain stream.
Night 4 will be spent in nearby Kawayu Onsen, where the close proximity of the volcanic heat to the surface of the riverbed means that you can actually make your own onsen bath at the edge of the river. Those not up to digging their own bath are welcome to bathe in the hotel's riverside bath or in the male/female baths inside the hotel. A semi-permanent public bath is also nearby. If the timing and weather permit we will be there for the famous "1000 person bath" event, where a giant bath is dug and is lit at night -- a beautiful, special event that only comes once a year.
Night 5 we will visit Yunomine Onsen, famous as a cleansing and purification stop as one traveled towards Hongu Shrine on the pilgrimage route. Those interested in walking on the ancient road will be able to do a nice day hike or several shorter options. Those not interested in hiking can tour the shrines, relax, or visit the new Kumano Visitors Center, just opened in July 2009. Trips along the Kumano River are also an option, where you'll have a chance to see the stunning gorge and maybe even some mountain goats if you're lucky.
Night 6 we will travel to Kii-Katsuura and stay by the sea. There we can take a short boat trip to Urashima's famous cave baths, fashioned out of giant caves along the island shores. This town also has an interesting fish market which is the largest in the area, and is famous for its delicious tuna.
Day 7 will start with a morning visit to Rakuda no Yu, a spectacular rotenburo in an isolated island that requires a 10 minute boat-taxi. Surrounded by nature on all sides, this is truly one of the area's most peaceful and awe-inspiring baths. The boat ride brings you right past some gorgeous rock formations, but nothing beats sitting in a hot bath as you look out at the bird life and salt-stunted pines. It's the perfect end to a great trip and will leave you with a great taste of Japan's best onsen, as well as a lifetime of memories. Once we return from this jewel of a bath we will head to the train station, where we will return to Osaka. Those of you wishing to stay in Japan are welcome to do so -- we would be happy to provide sightseeing suggestions or plan a customized itinerary for you.
We have to have a minimum of 6 people and -- in keeping with the intimate nature of this trip -- there will be a maximum of 12. Solo travelers will need to pay extra, as most Japanese hotels expect two people per room, so try to bring a friend along if at all possible. We expect spaces to fill quickly so if you are interested in joining us for this once in a lifetime onsen experience, please be sure to reserve your place as soon as possible. And remember, unlike many larger group tours, our OnsenJapan.net tours have a lot of built in flexibility and we can offer side trips, extensions, or even help you plan a longer stay in Japan after the tour is over. We really want to make this feel like your trip, not just ours. If the timing doesn't work and you would like a private trip, we can arrange that as well.
* The cost includes most of the expenses during the 6 night, 7 day tour, including at least 2 meals per day, transportation while on the tour, all entry fees for onsens, and of course, the hotel costs. Alcoholic beverages, incidentals, and add-on excursions such as the river ride or hiking the pilgrimage trails will be extra. Depending on the exchange rate and other variables, the cost is subject to change. OnsenJapan.net reserves the right to cancel the tour at any time for any reason; however, if we must cancel 100 percent of any deposit will be refunded.
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