Tag Archives: shima onsen

The Natural AC of the Riverbank! Enjoy the Cool Nature of Shima Onsen

Oku shima lake
Oku shima lake

For the past several years, Japan’s summers have been incredibly hot. In fact, from the end of the rainy season in late June through August, we often say “atsui desune” (“it’s hot, isn’t it”) instead of more standard greetings like “konnichiwa.”

Though the locals here think it’s quite warm in Shima Onsen, those who come visit from the hotter Kanto Plain area always tell us how cool it is here.

Part of the reason it’s so cool here has to do with our elevation (about 650 meters). However, an even bigger factor is the fact that the Shimagawa River, famous for its Shima Blue water, runs alongside the onsen town.

The water of Shimagawa River is cold even in summer, and the wind that blows from the river envelops Shima Onsen Town. It’s just like a natural air conditioner!

There are many areas near the river in Shima to enjoy the cool weather.

Ishigashiranosawa
Ishigashira no sawa

Ishigashira no Sawa is located across from Asahi Bridge, and its water runs into the Shimagawa River.

Ishigashira no Sawa is very close to Kashiwaya Ryokan, making it perfect for a morning or evening stroll. You can play in the water there, and there is also an abundance of fish that you can catch. If you are in the area now, you can enjoy the bamboo lanterns as well.

Shima’s Oketsu
Shima’s Oketsu (pot hole)

About 1.5 meters down-river from Kashiwaya you can see natural pools in the Shimagawa River called oketsu. Recently you can even see people swimming in these pools.

Shima Oohashi bridge
Shima Oohashi bridge

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Shima Onsen by Bike! Who Knows What New Encounters Await

Bike in Shima Onsen

Shima Onsen is a sprawling hot spring (or onsen) town located along the Shima River. The town area covers about 3km north to south. However, if you measure from the southermost oketsu (mysterious indentations in the riverbed that Shima is famous for) to the northernmost Shima River Dam, the onsen covers a length of 6km.

Now, this distance is only a short car ride, but on foot it might be a bit daunting. That’s why the mode of transportation we recommend for traversing Shima Onsen has to be…bicycle!

What’s more, we offer free rental bikes to our guests at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, so please don’t hesitate to use them!

Kashiwaya Ryokan is located at an elevation of about 634 meters, the same as Tokyo Sky Tree in Asakusa. The elevation at Okushima Lake is about 770 meters, so to get there you would climb 130 meters. Climbing up the dam itself Is roughly 70 meters, which means it’s only about 70 meters from Kashiwaya Ryokan to the bottom of the dam (the Hinatami area).
In other words, it’s a very gentle slope that you can take your time climbing without getting too tired out.
From the central town area to Arayu District is about 2km, or 10 minutes, and from Kashiwaya Ryokan to Okushima Lake should take about 30 minutes.

We had biking trip to Okushima Lake, so be sure to check it out!

Let’s start on our bike ride to Okushima Lake!

Onsen guchi Area

The area around Kashiwaya Ryokan is known as the entrance to the hot springs (Onsen Guchi).
2min, 450m –
Handmade soba and udon noodles at Tsuchiya.

Soba Udon Tsuchiya
Soba Udon Tsuchiya

Yamaguchi Area

3min, 800m –
Ichiriki Sushi, Shima Onsen’s only sushi restaurant.
Washinoya sells alcohol, craft beer and foodstuffs like a convenience store.
Enjoy a free foot bath at Okinaya.

Ichiriki Sushi shop
Ichiriki Sushi shop
Washinoya
Washinoya

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Shima Onsen and Spirited Away – a Surprising Connection

Sekizenkan Honkan
Sekizenkan Honkan

Did you know that right here at Shima Onsen, there is a building said to be have inspired the setting for the famous animated film, Spirited Away? Today we’re going to talk about the little-known connection between Spirited Away and Shima Onsen.

Manga, TV anime, and animated films are one aspect of Japanese culture that we Japanese are very proud of. One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Captain Tsubasa are just a few examples of manga and anime titles that are popular all around the world. And you often hear Studio Ghibli, the producer of so many feature-length animated masterpieces, touted as one of the most beloved names in Japanese animation.

Among Studio Ghibli’s many works, Spirited Away (winner of Best Animated Feature Film at the 75th Academy Awards) is one of the most famous of all. The setting for this movie is the supernatural bathhouse for spirits called “Aburaya,” run by the witch Yubaba.

In the book, Ghibli no kyokasho 12 (the Spirited Away volume in a series of books about Ghibli films), it says that “there is no specific bathhouse in existence on which Aburaya’s design was based.” Despite this, the question of where director Miyazaki got his inspiration from is a question of great interest to the Japanese.

The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum and the Meguro Gajoen hotel are commonly believed to have influenced Spirited Away, and even Studio Ghibli recognizes this influence. Among other locations said to have influenced Spirited Away are Dogo Onsen Honkan, Shibu Onsen Kanaguya, Tsurumaki Onsen Jinya, and finally Sekizenkan Honkan, located here in Shima Onsen.

Shima Onsen’s Sekizenkan Honkan, designated one of Gunma’s Important Cultural Properties, was built in 1691 and is said to be the oldest wooden bathhouse (Ryokan) in Japan. As such, the nostalgic atmosphere of the period is perfectly preserved there. As an Important Cultural Property of Japan with as much prestige as Nikko’s Yakushido, Sekizenkan Honkan is one of the most historically significant structures in Shima Onsen.

Sekizenkan Honkan
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Shima Onsen Ale, Shima’s Original Craft Beer

Shima Onsen Ale beer

Many of us enjoy travelling all around the world, and there’s one drink you can find just about anywhere you go. That’s right – beer!

I myself never miss a chance to try the local beer, no matter what country I’m in. In Japan, Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, and Suntory are the four biggest breweries, and the most popular beers among them are, of course, Kirin Ichiban Shibori and Asahi Super Dry.

But here at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, we have much more than your standard beers; on top of Kirin and Asahi, you can enjoy Yebisu on tap or “Shima Onsen Ale,” our very own locally brewed beer and the feature of today’s blog post.

As the name implies, Shima Onsen Ales are ale-style beers made in Shima Onsen. Shima Onsen Ale brews the following 3 beers, listed from palest to darkest:
– Blond     Maya Hime
– Amber     Oketsu
– Stout     Yoru no Otozure

Shima Onsen Ale line-up

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Ryokan that has Rooms with Private Onsen and Open-air Bath

Private open-air Onsen

Overview:

There are more ryokan that have guest rooms with private onsen and private open-air bath recently.

At those ryokan, you do not need to take onsen with other people.

So you can enjoy onsen even if you are from foreign countries, where you do not have habit to take a bath with other people.

Also, even if you have a tattoo, you can enjoy onsen without problems.

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Nakanojo Biennale , Contemporary Art Exhibition

Nakanojo biennale

Nakanojo biennale

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.

Sawatari Onsen Art

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.

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Enjoy Hanami at Shima Onsen! When is the best time to see cherry blossoms here?

Sakura in Shima Onsen

“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.

Sakura 2015

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.

Sakura at Kashiwaya Ryokan

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.

Sakura at Shima Onsen town

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.

林昌寺のシダレサクラ

Nakanojo

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!

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan >

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Onsen town near Tokyo even Japan enthusiasts admire

Description

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.

Shima Onsen Town

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Let’s enjoy Shima Onsen with free bike rentals!

rental bikes

It will be about 6km (3.8 Miles) from the most famous sport “Shima Ouketsu (potholes)” that is at the very front to “Okushima Lake” that is at the innermost.

As the distance is relatively short, it is also pleasant if you walk inside Shima Onsen. Yet, bicycles are more recommended.

We, Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, provide rental bikes, which our customers can use for free if they stay at us.

enjoy bikes

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A Ryokan outside Tokyo, but Close to Tokyo

Evening at Onsen Ryokan

Overview

There are also a lot of ryokan in Tokyo but most of them do not equipped with onsen and meals.

So, it is hard to experience all the essences of ryokan (Japanese atmosphere, onsen, washoku) there.

Thus, I recommend you to stay at least one night at onsen ryokan that is close to Tokyo.

I have listed up some recommended onsen resorts, where you can enjoy ryokan close to Tokyo.

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In Tokyo, there are a variety of accommodations from ultra-luxury hotels to capsule hotels.

The total number of rooms of accommodations is almost 150,000 rooms, combining hotels and ryokan.

In addition, construction and opening of new accommodations are coming up towards the Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo Shibuya night
Bright Lights, Big Tokyo

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