Where: Wakayama Prefecture
If you've been waiting for a chance to visit Japan at its most beautiful, now is it: slip into some hot water as cherry trees bloom overhead...it doesn't get any better. So get ready for long soaks in some of Japan's most beautiful onsen. This great all-included trip is just USD$3400.00 (assumes a six-person minimum and double occupancy;USD$3800.00 for solo travelers) for 7 days and 6 nights -- all expenses included (see full details). Don't wait to join this intimate tour!
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||Musashi Ryokan||Welcome dinner!|
|4||Kawayu Onsen||Fujiya Ryokan|
|5||Yunomine Onsen||Adumaya Ryokan|
|6||Katsuura Onsen||Ryokan Nakanoshima|
|7||Cave baths of Urashima||(day trip)||Leave for Osaka|
|Cost (does not include airfare to Japan or costs of arriving at Shin-Osaka station): USD$3400.00/person (assumes double)|
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 Urashima, a spectacular collection of rotenburo in a large grotto right by the ocean, on an island that requires a 10 minute boat-taxi. 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 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 can run the trip with fewer than 6 people but only if we adjust the price. 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 at least 3 meals per day, all transportation while on the tour, all entry fees for onsens, all daytime activities, and of course, the hotel costs. Due to availability, inns or hotels may be substituted for similar available ones. NOTE: While we try to offer a price in USD that we feel will work, if there are sudden fluctuations of the exchange rate or other variables, the cost is subject to change. Deposits indicate your firm commitment to going on the tour, and as such, cannot be refunded. If OnsenJapan.net cancels the tour, however, which we may do at any time for any reason, 100 percent of the deposit will be returned.
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