Our family runs an onsen ryokan. So what do we like to do on our days off? Go see other ryokans and take an onsen bath, of course! Today we went for a drive to Tazawa Onsen.
Tazawa is a small onsen with only 3 inns in operation. But the narrow cobblestone street is lined with 2~3 story wood buildings, many built in the Edo era, with manicured pine trees giving the town a classic feel.
We went to Masuya Ryokan for our bath. The innkeeper, Ken Miyahara is actually the leader of the prefecture’s Junior Ryokan Association. His inn has the type of construction that I just love — warm wood with long corridors running along the outside of the building, all in a confusing web of passageways.
As for the onsen water, well, I had heard that Tazawa Onsen is only lukewarm. And sure enough, with the onsen source being only 38C, the baths were quite a bit cooler than ours. But that meant we could enjoy a nice, long soak. The outdoor bath was especially enjoyable, with views of the blue sky above and pine trees and bamboo on the hillside next to the bath.
Tazawa Onsen — blessed by Nagano’s wonderful nature and featuring classic Edo-era architecture. It makes my list of Cool Japan.
Access: Take the Chikuma Bus Co. Aoki Line (30 min.; approx. 1 per hour) to the end of the line, Aoki. Transfer to connecting bus for Tazawa Onsen (approx. 5 min.).
Note: Masuya Ryokan offers baths for non-guests from 12:00~20:00. Price is 500 yen for adults, 250 yen for children.
There is also a public bath next door that has a footbath, too: