Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Visiting the Hot Springs in Japan: Okuhida Garden Hotel

View from our hotel window
The last stop on our Japan trip was a stay in a hot springs hotel. This is a uniquely Japanese concept as far as I know. A hotel is built next to/around a natural hot springs, so that guests can freely bathe in the waters, which in addition to being relaxing is supposed to have various health benefits. We stayed at a very traditional hot springs hotel on our last trip, and had such a good time we wanted to repeat the experience.
Surroundings of the hotel
However, where we stayed previously was 1. very far away from where we were traveling and 2. more importantly, fully booked up for the dates we wanted (the downside of traveling during Japan's biggest holiday season). Instead, we stayed near Takayama at the Okuhida Garden Hotel. While accessible by public transportation (a local bus runs directly to the hotel, albeit not very frequently), it is in a remote and beautiful location.
B and R in the room: at night the table is put away and bedding is placed on the floor
 The rooms were very comfortable and spacious. The best part of the hotel, though, were the hot spring baths, of which there was an entire complex, with baths for every taste: single sex baths, mixed sex baths (meaning we could go together as a family), indoor baths, outdoor baths, saunas, cold baths, warm baths, hot baths...With nine different baths, it was easy to spend a long time playing in the water. R loved it.
Beyond the hotel and hot springs, there isn't much in the immediate vicinity. One exception is the Shinhodaka Ropeway, the longest ropeway in Asia at 200 meters. It takes you up in two stages to a truly splendid viewing platform, where you can admire the scenery of the Japanese Alps. Taking the double decker gondola (the only one in Japan) was pretty fun too.

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