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Ahh, yes! Now I remember why I'm still in Japan. It is for things like the above: large, beautiful outdoor mineral baths called rotenburo that are open until late at night, with a beer and sake shop just around the corner. Some are even co-ed! But wait...I've gotten ahead of the story....

Y'all remember Cliff and his wife Tabi and their three kids? Well, they all came back to Japan this summer for a visit, and we got together for a few days in Fukui-ken on the Japan Sea.

We stayed at this very nice (and very expensive!) ryokan up in the mountains in the Yamanaka Onsen area. The area is rather famous for its white-water river and mineral baths, as well as for laquerware. They also make a pretty good sake which Cliff and Steve happily inspected and approved.

Yamanaka Onsen  Top


Two of the biggest differences between a minshuku and a ryokan are the level of personal service and the quality of the meals. At our minshuku, this included some amazingly good breakfasts and dinners, and our own attendant, who lit the fires, served the rice, poured the tea, and did everything else for us except eat the food.

We ate in a private room with tatami mats and shoji doors, at little, personal tables. Very pleasant, very Japanese. Michelle was too young for a meal of her own, so she crawled from table to table begging or outright stealing her breakfast.

Ryokan Breakfast

Ryokan Breakfast 2


Back to the baths. This is the entrance to the bath. Inside are separate dressing rooms and baths for men and women.

The yukata (robes) are provided by the ryokan for the guests to wear to the bath, to dinner, etc. Note Calvin's short yukata. Not regulation length. When the ryokan staff saw him, they immediately scurried off to find something a bit longer.

The baths are quite hot and constantly refreshed with even hotter water. Returning from a sunny day at the beach, Cliff and Steve found the water to be a tad too hot for certain overcooked portions of their lily white bodies, so they contented themselves with sticking their feet in the water, admiring the view and drinking ice cold beer. Yep, there's more than one way to enjoy a hot mineral bath in Japan!

Bath Entrance

Kids in bath

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