In the northeastern part of rural Kumamoto Prefecture, not too far from Beppu, Kurokawa Onsen is one of the prettiest and most charming hot spring resorts in Japan. Unlike the typical resort full of concrete ryokan and hotels, Kurokawa’s hot spring ryokan are almost entirely housed within charming old wooden buildings and the local community have been very diligent at preserving the town’s traditional atmosphere.
The lovely wooden ryokan, public bathhouses, shops and cafes line the cobbled streets of the small town, which lies in a forested valley and is built alongside a river of clear running water. For visitors to Kurokawa, an evening stroll through the town, dressed in yukata and wooden geta sandals, is highly recommended.
Kurokawa is famed for its beautiful outdoor baths and visitors staying overnight are able to visit several different ryokan, in order to experience the hot spring baths at each. For this, the town uses a unique system of wooden passes called tegata, which are sold for 1300 yen, providing admission to the baths of three different ryokan. They are available at the information centre and at over twenty participating ryokan in the town.