Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yamagata Prefecture's Amazing Outdoor Hot Spring

Intriguing tales of fantastic outdoor hot springs in Yamagata Prefecture, whispered to me by hot spring connoisseurs, inspired me to visit the Iide Mountain Range. Time limited me to just two springs in the countryside outside of Oguni Town, Yamagata (山形小国町) on November 18. Coincidentally, this was the last day of this year to enjoy the outdoor hot spring at Kawairesou (川荘), a rustic Japanese inn that is frequented by hot spring fanatics, mountain climbers, and other nature lovers. You'll have to wait until next April to soak in this splendid bath.
Despite Fiercely Blowing Cold Winds, Warm and Happy
Perched on a cliff above an untamed river that runs below already snow covered peaks, access becomes too dangerous for year-round access because of violent winds and heavy storms that dump an average of five meters of snow each winter.  The bath is located near the building on the right.

The roads through rural Yamagata Prefecture are extraordinarily scenic - even for Japan, which has large swaths of forests, steep mountains, and winding paths. The rock balanced precariously in the middle of the stream is approximately ten meters across. The rush and cry of the river was audible from the bridge from which I took this photograph, and I was standing about twenty-five meters above. This view is just one of the sights to be enjoyed as you drive towards this hot spring. If you take a trip there, you will see a side of Japan that is completely unlike the stereotypes that many foreigners hold of this country.
Kawairesou: Home of this Special Hot Spring

Hot Spring Water and Snowy Peaks Equals Paradise

This Yamagata Hot Spring Waits for You