Monthly Archives: December 2014

With a 12pm Checkout, An Onsen Ryokan where You can Relax

Retro-Looking Townscape

Shima Onsen, with its retro-looking townscape, is easily accessible from Tokyo and is conveniently located for a trip. On the occasion of the designation of the Tomioka Silk Mill in Gunma as a World Heritage Site, my friends and I decided to travel to Shima Onsen in Gunma the other day.

While Shima Onsen does not have a glitzy vibe, the relaxed atmosphere of Kashiwaya Ryokan located in a rich natural environment perfectly matches the relaxed feel of Shima Onsen’s townscape. We went in November when the fall foliage was very beautiful, so we were excited during the drive.

Aside from the large public bath, there were baths that you can have all to yourself at Kashiwaya Ryokan so I was able to enjoy bathing without worrying about other people looking at me. I bathed in the barrel-shaped bath and just as I was in it, the beautiful moon came out right above my head. Being able to bathe while looking at the moon was very charming. There were three private open air baths that you can bathe in as many times as you want for free, and my friend bathed in all three. My friend was happy that every one of them was lovely.

The meals were perfectly balanced and were good for the body, with plenty of vegetables and local ingredients. We enjoyed Akagi chicken and other ingredients characteristic of the area; and we were delighted with the hospitality extended to us such as the homemade konjac which takes effort to prepare. The sweetness of the desserts was also mild-tasting.

Our room was a Japanese room with a relaxed atmosphere. Amazingly, the phone in our room was a black telephone, and we were impressed with this nostalgic set-up that it felt like we went back in time to the Showa era*. The room was also thoroughly cleaned for our comfort. It was very quiet at night, and we even heard the murmuring of the stream.

Black Telephone

Checkout times at typical ryokans are at 10:00 am but it’s 12:00 pm at Kashiwaya Ryokan so we didn’t have to run around – we were able to relax up until our departure. Taking advantage of the late checkout, we went to the Kashiwaya Cafe managed by the ryokan which was 5 minutes away by car. We had curry for brunch and it was very good! The retro feeling even in the food was the best!

The smiling faces of the staff whenever we met them also felt nice. The hospitality they gave to us during our stay extended to the smallest details, and it was a very good trip.

*Translator’s note: The Showa Period lasted from 1926 to 1989.

Time:November 2014
Age:40 years old
Situation:With friends

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
Thank you for coming to see the fall foliage in Shima Onsen for your trip with your friend.

You can enjoy Shima Onsen in all four seasons but we recommend fall foliage season the most when you can also see new greenery. We are sure that you fully enjoyed seeing the autumn leaves.

More than anything, we are happy that you spent a fun, leisurely overnight stay with your friend, from bathing plenty of times in our three private onsens, to enjoying the food and the 12:00 checkout.

Thank you too for your many compliments on our food, facilities and our staff’s customer service. We will use these to encourage us to do our best henceforth.

We sincerely look forward to your next visit.

Thank you.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

A Wonderful Sensation Similar to Bathing in an Onsen in a Jungle


My family and I visited Shima Onsen’s Kashiwaya Ryokan in Gunma Prefecture in February 2010, and the hospitality extended to us was better than we expected so we came back during Golden Week of the same year for a two-night, three-day hot spring trip.

I knew that the accommodation fee would be more expensive during Golden Week but the children kept on talking happily about their memories of Shima Onsen and Kashiwaya Ryokan so I splurged, LOL.

Kashiwaya Ryokan’s wooden architecture similar to that of the hot spring inns of old contributes to the building’s good atmosphere, and my wife, my eldest daughter and I liked it at first glance. Having visited it just three months earlier, we should have already been used to its facade and Shima Onsen’s scenery but it was Golden Week, so there were many families like ours in the hot spring town and at Kashiwaya Ryokan, and we felt a different vibe compared to our first visit.

We stayed in a room similar to the room we had during our previous visit. Our room was on the second floor, and the view of Shima Onsen’s rustic landscape and the open air baths below unfolded before us. The children were just as overly excited as they were in February.

My one-year old son seemed to like the large public bath at Kashiwaya Ryokan very much, and even though he couldn’t talk yet he made happy sounds the moment we got in.

Carrying my one-year old son, and with a panoramic view of Shima Onsen’s nature before us, I felt this wonderful sensation, as of we were bathing in a hot spring in a jungle. I was so happy I spontaneously cried.

Bathing with my son at the large public bath at Kashiwaya Ryokan is a wonderful memory that I will never forget.

Time:May 2010
Age:38 years old
Situation:Family travel

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
We are really thankful that you visited us twice during a short period of time.

Shima Onsen has many faces depending on the season, and as you have mentioned, it has a completely different atmosphere in February and in May.

In February, you can watch snow fall lightly while bathing in our open air bath. There is an old belief that bathing in a hot spring during winter increases our bodies’ self-healing capabilities so winter is the most appropriate season to enjoy bathing in a hot spring.

And in May, we have new greenery. Light green leaves turn darker from day to day, and it feels as if nature is giving us energy. It is my favorite season of the year.

Above all, we are happy that your youngest child liked our hot spring bath.

Shima Onsen has many guests who come back as adults because it is a memorable hot spring region where they were taken to by their parents and grandparents when they were young.

The whole staff and I sincerely look forward to your next visit. Thank you.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

Onsen Ryokan Best for Couples | 3 Reasons Kashiwaya is Chosen

Onsen Ryokan Best for Couples To say couples, there are various couples, such as lovers who began the relationship recently, just married couples, and couples snuggled for years. Our Shima onsen Kashiwaya ryokan is recommended to couples and actually used by them the highest, and of course they are very pleased.

Reasons: 1. Private Onsen

Private Onsen

The greatest factor is, again, the 3 private onsen (open-air bath).

It is fun to chat, looking at seasonally changing mountains, such as cherry blossoms, fresh green, autumn leaves, and snows during day and the sky with full of stars during night and taking bath quietly can be also happy.

As we have a system that customers can take private onsen as many times as they want if it is vacant (do not forget to lock the door from inside at the time of use), so customers can enjoy it freely. I think this may be one of factors why couples love our ryokan.

3 onsen have individually different taste.

Kaede-no-yu (Maple) is a Japanese garden-style stone bath with maple and Sanbaseki, famous stone at Gunma).


Sakura-no-yu (Cherry blossom) is a bath using cypress for its frame also made at Gunma Prefecture.


Finally, Tsuki-no-yu (Moon) is a round bath tub type made of wood, using Takanomaki woods made at Kiso.


Reason 2. Meals


And, another thing couples enjoy is dinner provided at each guest room (Oheyasyoku dinner). So to speak, it is like a system to say even “in-room dining of full course”, sitting on a cushion on tatami Japanese-style room, you can enjoy a meal arranged in Gozen (a small table for a meal) called Daimyo (feudal load) Zen with only two people in private.

Daimyo (feudal load) Zen with only two people in private.
Daimyo (feudal load) Zen with only two people in private.

Reason 3. The pace, Shima Onsen

Town Work

In the sense on onsen for couples, our Shima onsen area itself is a perfect resort suitable for couples who want to spend a quiet time flowing leisurely.

When couples who spent such crowded places stay at Shima onsen, they can really relax and get refresh.

Thus, we recommend staying at a quiet resort where you can spend time by you two people alone, like our Shima onsen Kashiwaya ryokan when traveling long in Japan.

We guarantee you two people become more and more intimate!

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My First Trip Alone

Beautiful Scenery

I traveled alone on this trip so I had a hard time choosing my destination. It wasn’t like like I really like onsens to begin with, but I wanted to relax in a place I’ve never been before so I chose Kashiwaya Ryokan in Shima Onsen, Gunma Prefecture.

At any rate, there was a lot of nature when I got there. Relatively, there’s a lot of nature in the place where I live in Kansai but I was able to enjoy a totally different atmosphere.

I was very satisfied just with the nature but when I bathed in the hot spring at the ryokan, I felt at home and at ease. It was my first trip alone but the people at the ryokan were very kind so I didn’t feel any pressure nor did I feel embarrassed – I had an enjoyable time.

You can soak in the hot spring for as long as you like so I stayed for a long time. Most of all, it was great that there was a lot of time to do so, and a ryokan is perfect for this kind of vibe.

Dinner was typically Japanese, and the light and refreshing meal was very good. I had my fill of fish and other fresh ingredients.

I was alone at night so I had some anxiety but they take care of safety properly so I slept with no problem at all.

The next day, I also bathed in the hot spring first thing in the morning. There were only a few guests, so I enjoyed my solitary time even more.

For the rest of my trip, I didn’t do anything else. I just wandered around the ryokan, looking dazedly at nature and enjoyed my time doing nothing. They took care of my belongings while I was sightseeing so that was a big help. Thanks to them I had a good trip. I think it’s a wonderful ryokan.

Time:September 2014
Age:22 years old
Situation:Trip alone

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
Thank you for staying with us at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan for your first trip alone.

Relatively speaking, many guests come to our ryokan for their first trip alone probably because Kashiwaya Ryokan and the atmosphere of Shima Onsen suits solo travelers. Just as what you wrote in your comments, there are many guests who enjoy their time alone to the fullest, and this leads to many more solo trips, after which they come back, this time bringing along family and friends.

Thoroughly enjoying your very own time by yourself with no one bothering you is indeed the best kind of luxury, something that you can seemingly do in everyday life but cannot actually do.

We, the whole staff, sincerely look forward to your next visit. Thank you.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

An Onsen Ryokan where I can Relax even though I Have Sensitive Skin


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.

When I entered the ryokan, the employees immediately greeted me with a smile and led me to my room. The room was a subdued, Japanese-style room, typical of an onsen inn. I felt that the room itself was a bit small, but considering its reasonable price, the room’s size was enough.

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.

Time:February 2014
Age:27 years old
Situation:With friends

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
Thank you very much for staying at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan during your trip for the summer.

We are happy that you were able to see onsens in a new light because the water at Shima Onsen contains components with moisturizing properties that are soft and gentle to the skin. Moreover, you really get warm so you can be warm while you sleep and you can sleep soundly.

Thank you too for enjoying your meals. Our supplementary steak made from Joshu beef is very tender and is very popular with our guests.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

Recommended for Couples! A Ryokan with Private Onsen


We came here in February 2013 on our way home from our snowboarding trip in Niigata. It would have been ok just to stay in Niigata but the next day we were going back to our home in Kanagawa so we chose to go to Shima Onsen which we don’t often have the chance to go to.

We arrived about an hour after getting off the Tsukiyono Interchange of Kan-etsu Expressway. After checking in at 5:00 pm, we were led to the room which we reserved beforehand, the Kame no Ma room which is a room that includes an open air bath. It’s a luxurious Japanese room about ten to twelve tatami mats in size with a wooden deck terrace that includes a free-flowing open air bath.

KAME Type Room

Aside from the bath, there were three other open-air baths that you can have all to yourself. We bathed in the Kaede no Yu open air bath, a bath made with specially placed rocks. Maple trees are planted near it and one can enjoy the fresh, green leaves in the spring and the autumn foliage in the fall. You can also view the blossoms of the weeping cherry tree in the spring. When we went, the whole place was covered in snow but we still enjoyed it.

You don’t need to reserve the private open air baths so you’re free to go in if the changing rooms aren’t locked. Aside from these baths, there is a large public bath covered in marble.

For dinner, hen-of-the-woods mushroom rice, chicken hotpot, honeyed scarlet runner beans, homemade konjac jelly, savory egg custard and other extravagant dishes were lined up before us. As an additional dish, we also had salted and grilled freshwater fish! They were all very good and we were very satisfied.

For breakfast, you can choose between Japanese and Western-style breakfasts. I love bread so I had the Western-style breakfast and amazingly, the bread was freshly-baked. Aside from the bread, I had a superb Spanish-style omelette using plenty of local eggs, apple jam, and apple juice. Everything was so extravagant that it was hard to believe that it was breakfast!

Checkout is at 12:00 pm so you can relax and take your time. We went back to our room and bathed in the bath again and we even had time to go back to sleep. Having enjoyed all these, it was only ¥22,000 for 1 night and 2 days including dinner and breakfast! And the price is for two people! I am thinking of going back as a reward for my hardworking self.

Time:February 2013
Age:27 years old
Situation:With lover

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
Thank you for staying at our room with an open air bath at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan on your way home from snowboarding, and for relaxing and taking your time until your 12:00 pm checkout time.

While there isn’t a place where you can ski nor snowboard near Shima Onsen, we have many guests who come for a winter trip that combines skiing and bathing in a hot spring.

By bathing in the bath in your room, in the private hot spring and in the large public bath and by enjoying your meals, we hope that your fatigue from snowboarding was relieved and that you were able to recharge.

Shima Onsen has different faces depending on the season so please come back in the spring and in the fall. We, the whole staff, sincerely look forward to your next visit.


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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

How to Take an Onsen?|8 Rules & Manners of Japanese Onsen

Onsen Rules

No swim suit

Go Naked! No swim suit.
It is Japanese traditional culture of Japan, everyone goes into a bath together
Don’t be shameful!
Let’s enjoy together Onsen Bath!
If you will hesitate, don’t worry because we have three private open air baths.

Be Clean!

Be clean! Wash your XXX first.
Before entering the bathtub, it is customary to lightly wash your lower body outside the tub.
After that, you get in the bathtub and soak for a while.
Then you get out of the bathtub and scrub all over your body with soap.
When you have finished washing yourself, you get in the bathtub again and enjoy a good soak.

No Swimming

No running. No swimming.
You’d better walk slowly inside the bathroom because the floor may be very slippery because of ingredient of Onsen.
In addition, you never swim even if the bathtub is too big.
The major purpose of taking Onsen is not only to wash one’s body but also to rest and relax by soaking Onsen.

No Drunk Person

No drunk person inside the bathtub.
Usually, the temperature of Onsen is at least 40degrees (40℃).
So it is not good for your health for heavy drunk person to take or soak the bathtub.
To enjoy Onsen safely, please do not take the bath after drinking too much.

No glass inside the area.
As we all know, the people who take Onsen are all naked.
You never bring the dangerous or fragile things, like glass, inside the bathroom and locker room nether.

No Washing

No washing inside the bathtub.
There is a space provided for washing as well as a bathtub and shower.
Please wash your body and hair at the washing space.
And as we all know, you never wash your cloths inside the bathtub.

Watch Others<br /> when washing or showering

Watch others when washing or showering.
Many people would use and take Onsen at the same time.
You are not the only person to use it.
It is very important manner to take care other person around you.
Let’s share rest and relax time all together!

Don't Put Towel

Do not put towel inside the bathtub.
There are two major rules to take Onsen.
First, you should now allow your wash-towel or any soap into the bathtub.
Secondly, when you leave the bath, you do not drain the water.
These manners come from the fact that you are not the only person to use the bath water in the tub.

Wipe Before Entering Locker

Wipe your body before entering locker room.
To keep the locker room dry and clean, you would wipe yourself lightly with your wash-towel before entering there.
After wiping your body completely with your bath-towel in the locker room, you could wear “YUKATA”, bathing clothing, a kind of KIMONO.

thank you

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The Best in Every Way but Still a Reasonably-Priced Onsen Ryokan

Kashiwaya Ryokan

I’ve always liked touring onsens but I’ve never been to Shima Onsen so I decided to go. My friends and I were discussing which ryokan to stay in, and we decided on Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan because it’s well-known, and my friend’s family has stayed in it. If you don’t make a reservation early enough, there’s a possibility of it being fully occupied quickly so we made our reservation early.

It is said that Shima Onsen’s name originated from the efficacy of its waters on forty thousand illnesses.* My body is not on the strong side so once I hear that something is effective on illnesses, I’d like to try it right away. Shima Onsen’s waters were actually pleasant, and I didn’t feel that bathing in it for a long time took a toll on me. Kashiwaya Ryokan’s private open air baths are free to use, and you can bathe in them as many time as you want so I used them three times during our stay.

The onsens are not the only appealing things about Kashiwaya Ryokan. I heard from the family of my friend who stayed in this ryokan before that the food they had was delicious so I was really looking forward to this. For dinner, they welcomed us with seasonal dishes. The amount of food was just right – there were no leftovers and if I overate I would have felt bad so I was able to sleep soundly at night.

For breakfast, they prepared Japanese food and Western-style food. I’ve chosen Japanese food many times during past trips to hot spring ryokans but they’ve prepared a very appealing Western-style breakfast so unusually for me I chose the Western-style option. I remember that the good-quality coffee imported from Italy removed all traces of sleepiness in the morning.

While this ryokan is the best in every way – from the food, the onsens and the various services offered, I must make special mention of the accommodation fee. You can stay here at a reasonable price and receive wonderful service. They have various types of rooms so I think I’ll choose a different room during my next visit.

*Translator’s note: The Japanese character “shi” means “four” and “ma” (more commonly read as “man”) means “ten thousand.”

Time:April 2014
Age:35 years old
Situation:With friends

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
We sincerely thank you for staying with us here at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan. More than anything, we are glad that you were able to recharge and fully enjoy the waters of Shima Onsen, which have long been said to be effective on forty thousand illnesses.

I actually had stiff shoulders myself the other day, and I bathed in the hot spring longer than usual. I felt very relieved on around the fourth day, and I’ve felt the effectiveness of Shima Onsen once again. (One of the indications of Shima Onsen is stiff shoulders.)

Thank you too for enjoying your dinner and breakfast, and for your compliments.

While our inn is a compact one with 15 rooms, you can choose from among a variety of rooms depending on your needs – from a reasonably-priced room to a room with an in-room open-air bath.

We, the whole staff, sincerely look forward to your next visit. Thank you.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

An Onsen I’d Like to Go Back to

Retro Stairs

Last spring, my daughter graduated from college and she also found a job. During her college days, she would go on trips with her friends to so many places but this time, she gifted my wife and me with a hot spring trip.

It was a two-night, three-day trip to a nearby hot spring. She got tips from senior employees at work and from her college friends, and she found a hot spring where we could take our time and relax.

Once my daughter was settled at work, last October, we took a train to Shima Onsen in Gunma Prefecture. When we arrived at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, one of the staff who was wearing a T-shirt led us to our room. I was a little surprised at the T-shirt but I had a favorable impression of the cheery yet calm customer service.

The ryokan is described as retro-styled ryokan in their website and indeed it was. However, there were touches of modernity so we were comfortable. The room was neat and tidy, and was thoroughly clean.

After we settled in, we took a walk in the hot spring town. There were a few convenience stores, and the place had a calm ambiance that differed from the liveliness of a city.

After our walk, we returned to the ryokan to have dinner. Seasonal, local ingredients were presented stylishly, and the healthy food suited my daughter. It had good flavors that my wife and I also liked.

We found out from a guide that Shima Onsen is famous as a hot-spring health resort that is said to be efficacious for forty thousand illnesses. It appears that the rumors are true – the hot spring was really wonderful. I really had my fill by bathing in all of the baths, from the open air private onsen to the large public bath. My wife and daughter also bathed many times.

Unlike the city, the surroundings got quieter and quieter as the night wore on. The voices of the other guest gradually became more distant, and we slept well. Because the checkout time was at 12:00, we slept in and had a late breakfast. My wife and I had the Japanese breakfast while my daughter had the Western-style one.

We were thrilled with the baths, and the breakfast and dinner were good for the health that I thought of staying a while longer but of course I couldn’t do that. Two nights and three days went by so fast. When we got home, my wife and I talked a lot about the kind customer service offered by the ryokan’s staff and we’re thinking of going back to soak in the hot springs again.

Time:October 2013
Age:63 years old
Situation:Family travel

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
We sincerely thank you for staying with us here at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan.

It was very nice of your daughter to give you a gift of a hot spring trip. I was thinking I would be happy if someday that happened to me too.

More than anything, we are glad that you were able to relax, unwind and recharge because of the quiet surroundings of Shima Onsen and the 12:00 checkout time.

We are also thankful for your heartwarming compliments on the three open air private hot spring baths and the food. We will take your compliments as words of encouragement, and we, the whole staff, will continue to work together and do out best.

We sincerely look forward to your next visit. Thank you.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan

Freshly-Baked Bread from a Ryokan so Delicious It’s Indescribable


I remarried last January. Because my husband is from Gunma, he invited me to go because there are good onsens there, and at the same time it would be our honeymoon so the trip became our first after getting married.

My husband took care of the reservation and other things, and I didn’t know any of the plans so it was kind of a surprise for me. Upon arrival, I was impressed with the stylish facade of the building.

Our room was so large for the two of us, almost too large that we were dumbfounded when entered the room.

We had Japanese food for dinner and it looked almost too pretty to eat. While being impressed with the food, I was also thinking that I should cook food this delicious for my husband.

After dinner, we had a bath in the onsen. We had a very romantic time with just the two of us – we didn’t even have to reserve the open air bath and we had it all to ourselves. We talked a lot too.

After our bath we took it easy, and we were able to relax as if we were in our own house. It was our first time in that place but we were able to relax, and I think it was because of our room.

Our breakfast was a Western-style breakfast. I was surprised at the freshly-baked bread – it was really indescribably delicious. The other dishes were tasty too of course, but the deliciousness of the bread was so surprising that I was happy to be impressed so early in the morning.

Kashiwaya Ryokan is a very good ryokan. It was impressive from the moment we arrived, and up until the very end it did not disappoint. We have very good memories of it.

Time:November 2014
Age:44 years old
Situation:Family travel

Response from Kashiwaya Ryokan
We are very thankful that you stayed with us at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan for your honeymoon, a trip for making wonderful memories.

It appears that your bond together has deepened after having a relaxing time in your husband’s hometown.

We are also grateful for your compliments on our facilities, food and onsens that you had all to yourselves.

The freshly-baked bread served during breakfast that you were very pleased with is a secret specialty of Kashiwaya Ryokan that many of our guests order to take home as gifts.

You live in faraway Fukuoka but we hope that you will visit us again when your husband returns home to visit family. We, the whole staff, look forward to your next visit.

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Kashiwaya Onsen Ryokan