The mountain air is fresh and crisp. As you gaze around, you can see autumn leaves in bright shades of red and gold playing with sunlight. You can hear the sound of birds and water running. The smell of sulfur hits your nose as you start to submerge into the warm milky water of Nyuto Onsen, surrendered and rejuvenated.
Nyuto Onsen is a village of onsen ryokan in the mountains of eastern Akita Prefecture of northern Japan. The area is known for the open-air, white hot spring bath and its healing properties. The oldest ryokan – Tsurunoyu Onsen, has over 300 years of history.
We stayed that Kuroyu Onsen which is the second oldest ryokan next to Tsurunoyu. This rustic ryokan is well hidden up in the mountain. In fact, it is the furthest among the onsen in the Nyuto Onsen Village.
An onsen get-away is not so cheap. With 12,000 to 30,000 yen per person, you get two meals and a basic tatami room with shared bathroom. Japanese style futons are provided with a kettle, bags of green tea and read bean daifuku.
There are separated indoor baths for male and female and a mixed indoor and a mixed outdoor bath. The outdoor bath, although a bit tiny, was superb! Luckily there was no one there when I tried it.
Onsen eggs are available for sale at the reception counter if you are inclined to try.
I can’t complain about the food. The Japanese-styled meal is fresh and yummy and you have many small dishes to enjoy. My boyfriend seemed to think the portion was too small but you can get unlimited rice refill (he had about 4 bowls of rice). We were there at the end of October so Ayu fish was in season. We had grilled salmon for breakfast and grilled Ayu for dinner for both nights of our stay with different side dishes. The smoked radish on the side is a local delicacy and is a must-try!
Onsen Hopping – You can visit different onsens in Nyuto Onsen Village and try out different baths. The day trip admission is 500 yen for an onsen. A package is also available so check out with your ryokan
Hiking – A few hiking trails can be found around Kuroyu and Nyuto Onsen Village. We were there at the end of October and it was absolutely beautiful. The forest was in the color of red and gold.
Lake Tasawa – The deepest lake in Japan is about 40 minute bus ride down the mountain. There are plenty of activities to do around the lake like souvenir shopping, walking, biking or visiting the Statue of Tatsuko.
Kanunodate – The old castle town of Kanunodate is only one train stop away from JR Tazawako Station. This can be a day trip from the onsen. However, if you want to come back to the onsen, make sure you have enough time to catch the evening bus or you will have to take a taxi.
Time to Visit
The onsen is closed in winter, from around November. October is a very good time to visit with beautiful fall landscape and chilly weather perfect for onsen bath.
Getting There and Around
From JR Tazawako Station to Nyuto Onsen Village – There is a tourist center at JR Tazawako Station. You can get an update bus schedule from there. During our visit in 2012, bus runs hourly between JR Tazawako Station to Nyuto Onsen Village. The ride takes about 1 hour and Kuroyu Onsen is the last stop.
After you get off at the last stop, it is about 10-minute walk on the mountain road to Kuroyu Onsen.
Note: Bus stops running at sunset and in October, the last bus is leaving from JR Tazawako Station at about 5 p.m. It is a good idea to bring a flash light with you because there is no street light on the way to Kuroyu Onsen from the last bus stop.