A Japanese style inn or Ryokan becomes an Onsen or hot spring resort if the baths have naturally hot spring water.
On May 5, 2012 we joined Yayoi's brother and his wife at Kabe Station after a couple of hours crossing the tiny city of Tokyo. Kabe Station is near the edge of Tokyo. How people can travel to work like this daily boggles the mind. Anyway the four of us got on a local bus and ambled along a beautiful mountain stream till we got to the stop nearest the onsen. We got to Iwakura Onsen, left our shoes at the entryway and were oriented and shown to our Japanese style rooms. After settling in big brother and I headed off to the men's side of the bath (in the morning it would become the women's side). Clothing were put in baskets and with only a small towel entered the bath where we scrubbed and then entered the concrete/rock pool. After soaking we dried off and changed into yukata or casual kimono. The women took their turn and then we were summoned to dinner in a private dining room. Wow, the table had chairs around it. Usually at onsen banquets one sits on the floor. As usual at onsens, the food was awesome. When we finally got back to our rooms the bedding or futons were arrayed on the floor.
I had another bath in the morning and we had a nice breakfast in a room with about 3 other couples, one with two children. After breakfast we had very nice fresh coffee in another reception area. Later we packed up and headed back to the bus stop.
When Japanese people want to pamper themselves, they enjoy the luxury of a hot spring resort.
Click on link to see photographs on Picasa Onsen.