Monday, June 11, 2012

Kurokawa Onsen: Ryokan Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki

Kurokawa onsen lifestyle
Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki (いやしの里 樹やしき) came highly recommended via websites like Secret Japan, not only for the beauty of the setting, but also because this particular ryokan provides excellent service and is considered to have some of the best meals in Kurokawa. After staying here, I have a new understanding of the term "hospitality" and highly recommend booking a night or two to enjoy the cool, crisp mountain air, wonderfully relaxing baths, and the incredible, beautifully presented breakfasts and dinners.
Get ready for Kiyashi Inn!
We had booked the ryokan well in advance, which was easy enough since upon calling for a reservation, one of the staff spoke fluent English. Since this was our "treat," we opted for a first night with the regular meal plan, and on the second night we upgraded to the more decadent dinner and breakfast. Payment is due at the end of the stay, and while I believe that they take credit cards at this particular ryokan, you may want to make sure you have cash on hand for payment if staying at other places, because many of these establishments are cash only. After the reservation was made, and email addresses exchanged, Kiyashiki was diligent in sending confirmations via email, requesting arrival times, and information on whether we were traveling by car or bus. When we had all of our information and travel plans set, they informed us that they would pick us up at the bus stop to bring to the ryokan.
The inn's pet turtle, very friendly
As stated in the last post, travel to Kurokawa is not the easiest, but completely doable. After hours on the train and Nishitetsu bus, we arrived only a few minutes late to the bus stop, where a car from Kiyashiki was waiting to take us directly to our inn. It was only about a three minute drive up a hill to the ryokan, but staying a touch away from town provided a beautiful view, with a winding road, and scenery directly facing that lush mountainside. When the car arrived, a handful of staff were standing outside of the inn built into the hillside, welcoming us.
Lounge area, overlooking
the hillside
We were then seated in the lounge, which has a picture window so gorgeous that from the photos on the website I had thought it was simply a painting. Once seated, a staff member brought out two cups of delicious green tea, and a manager had us fill out a guest card and pick out the colors of the yukata that are provided to all guests at the inn. 
Weaving through hallways
With our delicious tea consumed, a wonderful staff member, who was eager to practice his English, guided us through the little rooms and outdoor walkways, changing slippers from outdoor to indoor versions as appropriate, soon arriving at a room in the "main palace." Sweet smelling, earthy tatami mats, a low table, and a long window opening to the mountainside rounded out our gorgeous traditional Japanese room. 
Strolling around the
inn wearing traditional
He then demonstrated, upon our request, how to wear the yukata, and asked what time we would like dinner, and where it would be served on that night (there is more than one dining room). He informed us that we were welcome to dress in our yukata and explore the inn, as well as try out the relaxing baths. Also, since the inn was a bit spread out, he gave us a very helpful English map of the grounds.
Entrance to our room
On the second night, to our sheer delight, the manager met us after breakfast and mentioned that the inn had had a cancellation, and that if we wanted to, we could move to an upgraded room, this one with its own outdoor private bath. I couldn't believe it. Though the first room was serene and lovely, the second was larger, and more isolated. It was located in a smaller building outside of the main palace. 
Private bath on the second night
The main room was similar to that of the first, but the space expanded into a kitchen area, and then to the private outdoor stone bath with shower. That bath was amazing. Minerally and smelling slightly of sulfur, soaking for all but a few moments forces ones skin into a state of ten years younger. Just picture: private, circular bath, outdoors, surrounded by lush bamboo and local greenery. Steaming hot spring water, and a cool breeze coming off the hills. When you're finished with your bath, you can dress in the loose fitting yukata and relax on the tatami. 
I'm failing at my explanation of how wonderful this place is. Words are not sufficient. Please stay here for the relaxing atmosphere, and second to none environment and gracious service. But if that isn't enough... stay for the food...
Food post to follow... stay tuned...


  1. Merci, Thank you for your post ! This Ryokan seems to be fantastic. I went on their website few minutes ago but I did not find any emails address... How did you book your room in this Ryokan ?
    Thanks again !

  2. Hi! I actually called the phone number on the website to make the reservation. They have a few staff that speak very good English. They will ask for your information and your email address and then they send you a confirmation of dates/details. You pay at the end of your stay. I hope you give them a call! I can't wait until i can save enough to go back to Kurokawa:)

  3. Oh... Great ! I'll try that asap. It's for November. I'll book their 13800¥ room... hope the diner is good (^___^)
    Lot of friends told me this ryokan was quite good and warmfull.
    Thanks !

    1. Hi! I hope this helps. I found the email address for kiyashiki. It's
      Try calling, and say, "watashi wa yoyaku shitai-n desu, demo nihongo o hanasenai. Eigo dake hanasemasu. Eigo-de emairu o kotoga dekimaska? Kiyashiki no emairu wa deska?"
      Translation: "I would like to make a reservation, but I don't speak Japanese. I only speak English. May I email Kiyashiki in english? Is Kiyashiki's email address?"
      Also, if this is difficult, then there may be an easier solution. This is the website that lists a bunch of travel agencies that sell Japan Rail Pass exchange orders: You could contact one of the agencies close to you and see if they can make the reservation for you. I think this might help. I also think it's very economical and useful to get a Japan rail pass while you are in Japan, so you can ask them about that too.

      I HOPE THIS HELPS! I know it sounds like a lot of work just to make a reservation, but I promise it'll be worth it. This ryokan was so charming:) Good luck!!!

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  5. Nilee, it's been a few years since you've posted about Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki at Kurokawa Onsen, but I wanted to thank you for your multiple posts. Your posts about the town and accessing it, together with your multiple posts on your experiences with Kiyashiki (and your follow-up comments as well) were key in me deciding to stay there with my wife just a week ago.

    We had an absolutely splendid time, everything you have said about the ryokan holds true two years later, and it was completely worth the time and money for a one-of-a-kind experience.

    You have our sincere appreciation.

    1. Hi Phillip!

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. I am thrilled that you enjoyed the ryokan as much as I did. Even years later, I still think about the visit to Kurokawa, and debate whether when I can go again, I try a different onsen town, or just to return to Kiyashiki, because, honestly, how can it get any better? To know that you and your wife had a great time makes taking the time to write about these places so worthwhile. All the best.