Thursday, May 31, 2018

Most Incredible Hot Spring of 2017-2018 Winter

Bone-white is the color of the hot thermal water, and White Bone Hot Spring is the translation of Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉), one of Japan's best small hot spring villages. Located deep in a ravine that cuts through the Japanese Alps, Shirahone requires high-level driving skills to reach in mid-winter, when the one snakelike route from Matsumoto, Nagano, is slick with ice and snow. But, God, is it ever worth it.

Be Prepared to Bath with Men and Women in the Outdoor Bath
For twenty-five years, I have been bathing my way around Japan in search of the ultimate hot spring experience. The renowned hotel, remote location, unique mineral water, and abundant snow pushed my winter trip to the village of Shirahone Onsen into the ranks of my top onsen experiences. I stayed at a luxurious remote Japanese inn named Awanoyu. Photographs of this outdoor bath are often published in magazines and books extolling the beauty of Nagano onsens. Within Japan, this bath is famous, but few foreigners know about Awanoyu. Now, you do.
Walk through the Curtains to Reach the Hotter Indoor Baths
The forest and I Faced Each Other in a Relaxing Moment 
Meals were superlative. The chefs prepared vegetarian meals for two of my companions. I tried the local delicacies, including basashi, which is shown below. Basashi is the red finely sliced raw flesh of a horse. This unusual variation of sashimi is popular in Nagano, Kumamoto, and a few other Japanese prefectures. 


To learn more about the extraordinary environment of Shirahone Onsen and neighboring Norikura Kogen, please click on this link to the first of a three-part story that I wrote about my joyous winter holiday during which I bathed, climbed mountains, and visited frozen waterfalls while surrounded by pristine snow.
The Side of the Bath is Caked with White Mineral Deposits

Even Desserts Were Otherworldly (In a positive way)

Relax in the Same-Sex Bath with Friends

One of the Frozen Waterfalls in Norikura Kogen

Gorgeous Winter Hiking Trails
For more on beautiful winter hot springs in Japan, here are links to other posts about winter bathing spots in Japan: The Cloud Sea Bath, Hot Springs for Swallows, Zao Onsen, Intercultural Bathing in Hokkaido, Various Winter Springs, Black Onsen Water in Myoko Kogen, and Tainai, Niigata. 

Please write comments and give suggestions. Thank you.

Awanoyu did not pay me for this positive review.