The drive to Kurokawa Onsen from Takachiho was quite long but we ended up having quite a few surprise stops. We just stopped by anywhere pretty really : )
Taken from the car park of Takachiho martial art centre - sooo magnificent!!
Saw this giant field at 高森 (where we had Japanese bbq yesterday ) with a giant horse and Kumamon made of hay! There was also a little waterfall on the side and cherry blossoms
There were a few restaurants - grilled chicken and this soba place.
We thought we will have a light lunch before driving off.
Homemade soba :)
It is not the best I have had ...the noodles are thick but not very chewy.
Wish I have ordered the cold version instead.
The next stop we made with very random :p
Not sure where exactly that was but it was truly fascinating!!!.
There were easily more than a hundred different shaped hedge - animals, boat, Japanese tower etc.
I have tried googling it but failed. It must be somewhere between Aso and Kurokawan Onsen - just right by the road.
There were also a few animals and a little farm shop on the side selling vegetables and fruits in bulk!
mummy and baby rabbit
You can buy little bags of carrots to feed the deers
You could either stay at a ryokan or go onsen crawling by getting one of these wooden pass which allows you visit 3 different onsen hotels for 1200 yen within 6 months.
many used wooden passes hung outside the shrine
We arrived early so we dropped off our luggage and just wander around the village before checking in.
Not long (5-10min?) after we set off from the hotel, it started pouring so we hid inside a store. We then noticed a staff from the hotel ran out chasing after us just to lend us umbrellas! That was very sweet of them :)
River by the ryokan.
It's not a very large village - with less than 20 shops/cafe/restaurants maybe?
Note : There is NOOOO cash machine in walkable distance!! and the onsen hotel only takes cash. so please make sure you take enough cash beforehand!!!!
(we nearly ran out of cash!! )
First, we stopped by a rice snack shop - they sell these grilled mochi skewer (Nure Okaki) and grilled rice crackers (Okaki) .
That's very nice - its a kind of grilled mochi that we have never tried!
It's crustier outside and it's sticky and moist inside (you can just see the rice grains).
There are a range of toppings you can choose from. We picked black sesame
Explaining what they are and how they are made
I've been longing to try this out when I read about this from the guidebook!
Dorayaki with mochi cream inside!!!!!!! two of my favourite snacks combined as one!!!
You can even have add ice cream if you wish.
There are 5 different flavours - milk. orange, custard, green tea and coffee
http://item.rakuten.co.jp/kabo/doradora-10/ (scroll down this page to see various photos of how it's made)
It was amazingggg. The pancakes were very buttery and soft.
Wish I could bring them back but they cannot be kept for long as there is cream inside :(
By the bridge across the river, there's a little Japanese cafe which is famous for its croquette.
They have two flavours: black curry and white yam.
(and there's one table where you can dine with Kumamon :p)
They've sold out the black curry ones :(
The yam ones are still very nice though! you can see strings of yam inside with a very crispy breaded coating.
It's just by the shrine
We bought a cream puff and a slice of swiss roll with chocolate coating from there. The lady asked when are we planning to eat it (to see if we need an icepack) and we looked at each other and said - less than 5min! (just long enough to look for a bench to sit down and consume it!)
Here, the puff is more expensive (210 yen) than the one we had at Aso (110 yen!!!) but it was bigger - with cookies crumbs at the top. yum yum yum.
by then ... we have already ran out of cash :( would have bought more otherwise.
They all look sooo gooood. e.g. the giant strawberry mochi!!
We booked a room at ikoi ryokan. Apparently it's voted as one of the top 100 onsen hotels in Japan!
We visited Arima in 2012 and we have to say the experience was very different!
This is more traditional and original.
The ryokan at Arima was more fancy and luxurious with beautiful yukata, mochi pounding ceremony in the morning, English menu, range of bath products to choose from, massage chair etc. Therefore it maybe more suitable for foreigners.
However, in terms of onsen - ikoi ryokan offers a lot more - many more to choose from and they were all very beautiful.
There are many different onsens to choose from and most importantly the temperature was just right - so it was actually very soothing and pleasant! ( we found the ones at Arima were rather hot)
I went for a bath 3 times - once after checking in, then after dinner before bed time and for the last time in the morning before breakfast.
You can get onsen eggs from the entrance for 70 yen.
We wanted to get one but we were too full already after all the snacks :p
Free foot baths outside
Dinner menu in Japanese
The plum wine on the right was the best I have had in my life !!
( I haven't had that many :p )
Horse sashimi! - It was very soft
Veg steamed by onsen water
You have the choice of pork, beef or chicken as the main.
We went for pork and beef to share.
I would highly recommend you to go for the beef - sooooo soft.
Shabu Shabu pork
DIY Teppanyaki steak
Tofu and konnyaku soup
They have their very own farm and they make their own pickles.
We paid extra for the dinner upgrade - so we get an extra piece of aso steak.
I have to say I was very disappointed with the size!!!! and I would prefer them to serve it rare.
I wouldn't recommend the upgrade personally given the price difference.
Vanilla icecream and creme brulee
Our beds are lay out while we went out for dinner.
They came up to our rooms to offer us Japanese red bean soup with dumpling a little later.
Breakfast on the next day
Fish, onsen egg, veg, pickes and yogurt on the side
You can either have deep fried pork chop or deep fried minced pork burger (I find it more juicy!)