This beautiful, idyllic onsen town is known for the proximity of the volcanic heat, which warms the riverbanks so nicely that one can bathe by digging one's own bath right beside the river. If that is too daunting, use the semi-permanent bath on the far side of the river or stay at Fujiya Ryokan, which makes its own baths with the help of a handy backhoe. A stay here includes dinner and breakfast (the usual Japanese style) and bathers have a choice of the riverside baths or one of several inside the ryokan itself.
Though getting here requires careful planning by bus or the renting of a car, those who come to Kawayu won't be disappointed. It's a unique, peaceful spot and the uniqueness of the baths is unparalleled. (Well, there are a few other spots in Japan where this is possible, but not many!) Bashful bathers may want to skip the river, as it is close to the road and there's nothing to hide behind -- a skinny dip at night might be a solution, as it is a shame to miss out on such a unique, interesting bath. In summers the riverside fills with families who bring their own shovel and pick a spot for themselves. At other times of year you're likely to have the riverbank all to yourself. Either way, it is a treat to come here.
Recommend an Onsen!
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