Aoni Onsen

Hot spring resort lit only by lamplight

Aoni Onsen is a hidden gem nestled in a remote location east of Hirosaki, japan. It is a place where time seems to stand still, and the outside world fades away. Known as “Lamp-no-yado,” or the lamp inn, Aoni Onsen is the epitome of tranquility and simplicity.

To reach Aoni Onsen, one must embark on a journey that involves a combination of train and bus travel. The adventure begins at the Konan Railway Hirosaki Station, where travelers take a train to Kuroishi Station. From there, a Konan Bus bound for Nurukawa will take you to Nijino Park. Finally, a shuttle bus will transport you to the secluded onsen. The entire journey takes approximately two hours, but the picturesque scenery along the way makes it a worthwhile experience.

Upon arrival at Aoni Onsen, guests are greeted by the enchanting glow of oil lamps. The inn and hot springs are devoid of modern amenities such as electricity, TVs, and Wi-Fi. Instead, the atmosphere is illuminated by the soft light of traditional lamps. This intentional lack of connectivity allows visitors to truly disconnect from the outside world and immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

The surroundings of Aoni Onsen are nothing short of breathtaking. The inn is nestled amidst virgin forests, with a mountain stream flowing nearby. The Minami Hakkoda mountain range provides a stunning backdrop, especially during the summer when the vibrant greenery is in full bloom. The combination of the soothing sound of the stream and the invigorating scent of the forest creates a serene ambiance that is hard to find elsewhere.

One of the main attractions of Aoni Onsen is the understated luxury it offers. The simplicity of the accommodations and the focus on natural elements create a sense of harmony and relaxation. The meals served at the inn are made with fresh local ingredients, including vegetables, mountain greens, and seafood. The mineral-rich spring water used in the preparation adds a unique touch to the flavors. Guests can savor the delicious meal while appreciating the peacefulness of their surroundings.

Of course, the highlight of any visit to Aoni Onsen is the hot springs. There are four baths with different characteristics, each offering a unique bathing experience. The Kenroku-no-yu is an indoor bath with a sunken tub made of hiba wood, known for its antibacterial properties and therapeutic aroma. The Takimi-no-yu, also indoor, provides a breathtaking view of a splendid waterfall. The Uchiyu, the newest addition to the baths, features hiba wood in both the tub and the building, offering a refreshing scent. Finally, the rotenburo, an open-air stone bath, allows guests to soak in the warm waters while surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden.

It is important to note that while the three indoor baths are segregated, the outdoor spring is open for mixed bathing. However, there are designated hours exclusively for women to enjoy the outdoor bath. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to experience the healing properties of the hot springs in a comfortable and inclusive environment.

Accommodations at Aoni Onsen are traditional Japanese-style rooms, complete with futons, zabuton floor cushions, and other traditional touches. The inn can accommodate up to 100 guests at a time, making it a cozy yet bustling retreat. While amenities such as yukata, towels, and toothbrushes are provided, guests are advised to bring their own shampoo and conditioner, as well as any hair dryers they may need. The absence of electrical outlets in the rooms encourages a return to simpler methods of drying hair, such as towel drying.

For those who are unable to stay at the inn, Aoni Onsen offers the opportunity for non-staying guests to use the baths for a small fee. The owners also provide day-trip packages that include access to the baths and a delicious lunch. This allows visitors to experience the rejuvenating powers of the hot springs even if they are unable to spend the night.

To make the most of a visit to Aoni Onsen, it is recommended to stay for at least two nights. Most guests only stay for one night, departing in the morning. By extending the stay, visitors can fully indulge in the tranquility and solitude of the onsen during the day when the baths are less crowded. It is a rare opportunity to have the baths almost entirely to oneself, allowing for a truly serene and private experience.

It is important to note that driving to Aoni Onsen in winter may be challenging due to heavy snowfall and treacherous road conditions. It is advisable to check the weather and road conditions before embarking on the journey.

In conclusion, Aoni Onsen offers a unique and unforgettable experience for those seeking tranquility and relaxation. The remote location, lack of modern amenities, and stunning natural surroundings create an atmosphere that is both peaceful and rejuvenating. Whether soaking in the hot springs, enjoying a simple yet delicious meal, or simply basking in the serenity of the forest, Aoni Onsen is a haven of tranquility in a connected world.

Address And Maps Location:

Kuroishi-shi, Aomori-ken

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