Nakanojo Biennale is a big contemporary art festival held once in two years at Shima Onsen and it’s around town, Nakanojo with a theme of “Celebration of Onsen + Home + Art.”
Pictures, sculptures, and photos are exhibited at everywhere at Shima Onsen town and Nakanojo town, such as no longer used old wooden school buildings.
In addition, there are various workshops and performances are held during the period.
In 2017, 154 groups of artists will be invited from September 9 to October 9.
It will require about three days and two nights to move by a car and enjoy thoroughly the arts widely exhibited at the city of around Nakanojo Station, onsen town of Shima Onsen and Sawatari Onsen, Kuni and Isama districts, which have been certified as the most beautiful villages in Japan.
“Hanami” is Japanese traditional custom, which means to admire cherry blossoms.
It is not an exaggeration to say that all Japanese are looking forward to the time of cherry blossom.
We, living at Shima Onsen, are not an exception. We always talk about Ohanami when It comes to a cherry blossom season at Tokyo (late March), such as “When do cherry blossoms at Shima Onsen bloom?”, “Do they bloom beautiful this year also?”, “When should we do Ohanami this year? “, and so on.
There is no so-called “Ohanami attractions” at Shima Onsen, where all over the place is covered with cherry blossoms.
Instead, there are various kinds of cherry blossoms bloom in mountains, such as wild cherry trees, weeping cherry trees, Yoshino cherry trees, double cherries, and so on.
They dye mountains with pink dots and tell the arrival of spring to the mountain village.
You can view weeping cherry trees from private open-air baths of Kashiwaya Ryokan.
You can also enjoy Yoshino cherry trees planted on the front riverbanks from deck terraces.
In addition, you can enjoy double cherries at the Shima Onsen town.
The double cherries around “old Nakanojo Municipal third elementary school,” an old wooden school building that had been closed down, are very impressive.
A weeping cherry tree at “Rinshoji,” an old temple near Nakanojo Station which is the nearest station of Shima Onsen, has height of 16m and is spectacular.
It has been designated as a natural monument of the town.
The altitude of Shima Onsen is about 650m, so the flowering period of cherry blossoms is later than that of around Tokyo, even it is at the same Kanto region.
Weeping cherry tree at “Rinshoji” near Nakanojo Station is for about 15 days from April 10.
Within Shima Onsen, wild cherry tree, weeping cherry tree, and Yoshino cherry tree are about 25 days from April 20, and double cherries are about 10 days from May 5.
(The full bloom season changes depend on the weather of the year.)
Please enjoy cherry blossoms slowly at Shima Onsen!
When saying onsen resort, people tend to imagine it to have left far from towns such as Tokyo. Yet, actually, there are a lot of highly original onsen resort and onsen ryokan near Tokyo environs, too.
There are more and more visitors who stay based at Tokyo Metropolitan area and stay at onsen ryokan in short trip in one night and two days. Onsen resorts near Tokyo, including out Shima onsen, are perfect for such needs.
It is a town with altitude of 300 to 2000m and is a small mountain village with about 17,000 inhabitants.
In addition, Kuni and Isama district of Nakanojo have been certified to be one of “the most beautiful villages in Japan” by The Most Beautiful Villages Union in Japan.
“The Most Beautiful Villages Union in Japan” is playing a part of “The most beautiful villages Union in the World,” which began in France in 1982 and Is joined by France, France, Italy, Belgium, Canada, and Japan. Continue reading →
My friend took me to Shima Onsen but truthfully speaking, I’ve had an aversion to onsens before I came here. I’ve had this image in my head that the properties of an onsen bath would make my skin itch and my hair dry. Because I have sensitive skin, I thought that it wouldn’t be suitable for my body. But I think Shima Onsen suits me – it’s completely different from other onsens.
With regard to the baths, I was able to go to the open air baths immediately from my room. I was surprised that you can have these large, open air baths to yourself. Moreover, you can bathe any number of times so I bathed after I arrived at the ryokan and then again after I ate my meal.
A very tender steak was served during dinner. It was delicious – so good that I almost regret thinking that one would expect an onsen inn to serve Japanese food.
The checkout time was a late 12:00 pm so I had enough time in the morning to prepare to leave. For lunch I went to Kashiwaya Cafe and I also sampled some of the famous manju buns at a nearby manju shop. Location-wise there are lots of things to do and the onsen town itself is a pleasant place to be.
Despite bathing in the onsens, my hair didn’t become dry not did my skin itch. I also slept very well – proof that I was able to relax.
Age：27 years old
★Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
Thank you very much for staying at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan during your trip for the summer.
It is said that there are more than 3,000 onsen with accommodation in Japan.
On the contrary, looking at the number of onsen in the world, Australia is about 50 and Germany is a little less than 200, thus you can see that Japan has overwhelming onsen powers. (Source: National Diet Library database)
In addition, its history and traditions are also great.
Onsen that was Described in the Japanese Oldest Book
A relationship between Japanese and onsen is so deep that there are descriptions about onsen on “Kojiki” that is said to have been compiled in A.D. 712 and is the Japanese oldest book. We often say, “Onsen culture is due to Japanese DNA.” It is exactly like that.
Where is the oldest onsen in Japan? Onsen enthusiasts often discuss it.
From a view that are appeared in the ancient texts such as Nihonsyoki (Chronicles) and Fudoki (Topography), commonly referred “Japanese three oldest onsen” are Dogo onsen (Ehime Prefecture), Arima onsen (Hyogo Prefecture), and Shirahama onsen (Wakayama Prefecture).
In the era when medical care was undeveloped, onsen was revered as Holy Land that has amazing efficacy for injury and illness. It was after the Kamakura era that bathing became a common culture same as modern. Then in the Edo era, “Toji (onsen therapy)” culture, that is people heal their fatigue in onsen during agricultural off-season, spread and has continued unbroken until now.
Tradition of Shima Onsen
Tradition of Shima onsen is also very old and nobody knows exactly, however, there are episodes, such as Shogun of the time, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, discovered it at Ezo conquest during Enryaku period (from A.D. 782 to 806) according to a legend, and Usui Hyuganokami Sadamitsu, a vassal of Minamoto no Raikou, discovered it when traveling From Echigo country to Ueno country in Eien 3 (A.D. 989).
The legend is like this. Usui Hyuganokami Sadamitsu was spending time by chanting while he was camping in the middle of the journey. Then suddenly, an unfamiliar child appeared and left mysterious surrender, “I bestow you a holy onsen that cures 40,000 diseases as I was moved by your sincerity of chanting. I am a divine spirit of this mountain.” Although Sadamitsu was almost falling asleep, he examined the peripheral in a hurry, and found onsen gushing out there. According to these legends, it is likely that onsen had been known before the 10th century.
It was during the Warring States Period of the 16th century when Shima onsen ryokan was full-fledged open. The length of history is also a proof of the height of efficacy. It is said that when taking Shima onsen, it demonstrates wonderful effects on improving skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis or burns, and poor physical condition of gastrointestinal system disease. Thus, Shima onsen is highly acclaimed as a premier Toji place. In addition, skin effect is also outstanding, thus many female customers also visit for cosmetic purposes.
Shima onsen is a spa town, and there are more than 30 accommodations along Shima river. One of them is “Sekizenkan main building,” which is said to be the existing Japanese oldest Yuyado architecture.
So, you can feel good old Japanese tradition. Sekizenkan is said to have become the model of the stage of “Spirited Away,” a Studio Ghibli’s masterpiece. If you look at the red bridge towards straight extending to the front door, many people raise impressed voice by superimposing with the world of the anime.
In October, a Shima autumn festival is held, where local young people play grand festival music works together. The traditional festival lives up the onsen town, so you can enjoy a little bit different Shima onsen’s taste from usual one.
“Yakushido,” a national designated important cultural property, that has been dedicated to Yunomae Myojin at Hinatami district is a symbol of Shima onsen tradition.
It is said to be architecture of late Muromachi Era. The fact that there was such a splendid building from that time is also a testimony that Shima onsen has prospered from old time.
There is a system called “national resort onsen,” best onsen as resort designated by the Ministry of the Environment, in Japan. Shima onsen was designated as the first national resort onsen in 1954. This would show that Shima onsen is traditional and also has excellent medicinal efficacy.
As Toji culture had been remained until the 1975’s at Shima onsen, you can walk the streets where you can feel the Toji culture even now, such as shopping mall and drinking onsen spot.
In addition, concerning the humanity of people living at Shima onsen, most of them do not care business profit that is same as in Toji era, thus people sometimes say that it is like the time of this town has stopped.
Fully enjoy onsen atmosphere at traditional Japanese onsen, especially among them, at Shima onsen with old history.