Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kambayashi Onsen, Jinpyokaku

If you are planning to visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano prefecture, try to stay at a Japanese Ryokan (Inn) with hot springs.  Kanbayashi hot spring resort is located in mountain area and 2km (1.2 mile) away from the park.  The area has quiet atmosphere, and you can tell why this area was loved by many famous writers and artists.  

This time, we stayed at Jinpyokaku in Kanbayashi hot spring resort.  This inn has 110 years of history, and Yasunari Kawabata (won the Nobel Prize for Literature) and Soseki Natsume (was on the 1000 JPY bill before) also stayed at this inn to write.         

The rooms are all Japanese style, and this is our room.  Nagano's winter is very cold, but the room has a Kotatsu, which is a low table with electric heater installed and covered by a futon.  Please enjoy Japanese heating system and relax in it.  We love kotatsu.  Also, the inn serves towels, amenity supplies, and yukata (cotton kimono style room wear), so you really do not have to bring anything to stay at this inn.   

The highlight of this inn is spa, of course!  This inn uses 100% fresh spring water and does not recycle it.  They have separate men's and women's indoor spas, and an open-air women's bath, and surprisingly, an open-air mixed-gender bath.  It was the first time for me as well to soak in the mixed-gender bath.  If you are brave, try it once in your life time??

In the mixed-gender bath, a woman can wear a simple wear to hide your breast and hip, but a man cannot wear anything.  There are only 6 rooms in this inn, so there are not many chances to meet people in the spa... but I was embarrassed a little. (An old lady was soaking in the mixed-gender bath totally naked, and said that nobody was looking and no worry! She was awesome :) )  

The dinner and breakfast were good, too.  Every time, the landlady writes menus in handwriting and also cooks for us.  This was the menu on this night (sorry Japanese though), it was actually Christmas Eve. We ate delicious shabushabu made with Shinshu quality beef from cows raised on apples.  And do not forget to taste Japanese local sake.   

Here is breakfast.  At first sight, we thought we cannot eat all, but we ate all...

Jinpyokaku has English speaking staff, and offers free transfer service from Yudanaka station to the inn. (It takes 10-15 minutes by car.)  The inn accepts credit cards.  Check-in time is from 3 pm and check-out time is by 10 am.  The price is about from JPY19,000 per person. (Dinner and breakfast are included.) 
Kambayashi Onsen, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano Prefecture, 381-0401, Japan

Experience Japan!