Copper-rich waters of Ikaho Onsen
Ikaho Travel Blog› entry 3 of 15 › view all entries
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.
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!).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.