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Copper-rich waters of Ikaho Onsen

Ikaho Travel Blog

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Ikaho: Train ride

Udon street and the soaking in Ikaho's copper-rich waters... What better way to spend the weekend?

After a night in Kusatsu, we hurrily had breakfast and a long bath in their onsen before checking out. We had our directions, bus and train schedules to get to Ikaho. The next stop on our onsen weekend.

Arriving at the Kusatsu Bus Terminal, we took the bus from Kusatsu to the Naganohara-Kusatsugushi Station where we transferred to the JR train to Shibukawa Station ($1500yen, 90 minutes). Once we arrived in Shibukawa Station, we took the bus to Ikaho, a 20-minute bus (300yen) ride up the easter slopes and hilly road of Mt. Haruna. The bus we took stopped at the small bus station in Ikaho, and only a block away from our hotel for the night, Hotel Kindayu!

The hotel looked older but is also a larger building as we expected from their website.

Ikaho: Welcome!
For one night stay, we paid 6950yen ($70) per person including a buffet dinner and breakfast. Check-in went smoothly and we were escorted to our room easily enough. The room was a large room with living room area, and a tatami sleeping area. But it smell of smoke! Hmmm... We called to ask if they have a non-smoking room, they did but it was a much smaller, western style room. After checking it out, we decided to keep our room instead. To solve the smoky smell, we opened the sliding doors to the balcony to air out the room, sprayed air freshener provided by the front desk and left the room (with the balcony doors open) before we went sightseeing. Problem solved!

Before we left, we inquired about getting a mahjong set sent to our room (it was free!), made a reservation for a karaoke room for the night for 1 hour to sing our hearts out - another free activity they offered, and made a reservation for a private onsen for the next day (also for free!).

Ikaho: our tatami room and futon

 First stop, LUNCH! It was also past noon. We were hungry and the udon street in Mizusawa is just what we were going to next. (read A side Trip for Udon blog).

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After having lunch, we took a taxi to the base of the famous stone steps of Ikaho. Because Ikaho is in a much lower elevation compared to Kusatsu, the snow has already melted and are barely evident in the town. From there, we climbed the steps and checked out the old arcade stores and shops lining the steps.

Ikaho: view from our hotel room
Along the steps are also zodiac signs which Niji took pictures of every single one and counted the steps to the very end where the Ikaho Shrine is located.

It was our first visit to a shrine after the New Year, so we all lined up to ring the bells and said a little prayer. From the shrine, we walk further up to the rotemburo, another 10-15 minute walk. It was getting darker and the path to the onsen was gettign darker. Along the path, there are cafes and shops that were already close. It would have been eerie, with the path being poorly lit, but there were people walking with us, and people coming from the onsen and hotels further up. So it wasn't bad.

Prior to reaching the rotemburo, we saw the Kajika Bridge which crosses over a stream.

Ikaho: Map of Ikaho town
The area is famous for its autmun colors during the season and a stream that is copper-colored. The stream water itself was clean and very clear in fact, but the copper deposits at the floor of the stream, gave it a copper look.

Then we finally reached the rotemburo! We paid the fee (200yen) and went in. This rotemburo was very small from other rotemburo we have been to but was obviously used by locals. It has two small tubs - one tub is slightly less hot and slightly smaller than the other tub. The larger tub can accomodate to 10 people and thats were most of the women were soaking.

I started in the small tub first, getting acclimated to the hot temperature befor transferring to the much larger and hotter one. I also had to wait had to wait for people to leave for a space to free up.

Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
This water was definitely much differed from Kusatsu water. Copper has healing properties of treating skin disorders and diseases. My skin felt so soft after the soak. I'm loving this onsen weekend!

My friends and I walked back to the town steps where a small alley had a direct access to our hotel. We checked out the dining room for dinner but they were full, so we planned to come back in an hour. When we arrived in our room, our mahjong set was waiting and the smoky smell has down to a minimum! Fantastic!

We played mahjong for an hour while we listened to some Japanese pop music in the background. Then off we were for dinner. The dining room was large. This hotel definitely caters to a more family friendly groups as we saw lots of kids with their parents and relatives.

Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
It was nice to see. The buffet dinner was nothing extravagant but was enjoyable as I recognize some common Japanese food and also allowed me to see what normal Japanese people eat. They had the usual rice, miso soup, a mini version of a make your own udon or ramen noodles, pickled vegetable, grilled fish, seaweed, vegetable tempura, fish cakes, and the like.

After dinner, we went to the lobby to check our emails before going for karaoke. We had our own privare karaoke room good for 6 people, a flat screen tv and two mics! We had brought from chips and drinks with us - water and tea was already provided in the room as well. Let the singing begin! They had a limited selection of English songs so my friends sang Japanese songs instead. Some I recognize and remember a few lines in Japanese but it was fun singing along with them.

It was midnight when we called it a night.

ellechic says:
Thanks!
Posted on: Aug 05, 2010
LostInSpace2010 says:
Wow guys, I'm so impressed of how well packed and how great you organized everything! =)
Posted on: Aug 03, 2010
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Ikaho: Train ride
Ikaho: Train ride
Ikaho: Welcome!
Ikaho: Welcome!
Ikaho: our tatami room and futon
Ikaho: our tatami room and futon
Ikaho: view from our hotel room
Ikaho: view from our hotel room
Ikaho: Map of Ikaho town
Ikaho: Map of Ikaho town
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street)
Ikaho:
Ikaho:
Ikaho: Shrine
Ikaho: Shrine
Ikaho: Stream with copper settling…
Ikaho: Stream with copper settlin…
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street) at ni…
Ikaho: Ishidan dori (street) at n…
Ikaho
photo by: ellechic