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The region around the city of Fukuoka is known for its ‘onsens’, natural hot springs. The most beautiful onsens can be found in Kurokawa. A small village, tucked away among green mountains with wooden houses, picturesque bridges, flowing creeks and public bath houses.
The Kurokawa hot springs are perfect for a day trip. Daily buses depart Fukuoka early in the morning and travel to the spa village. For a small fee you can buy a wooden token in Kurokawa that will give you access to 3 of the baths. The admission ticket includes 3 stickers. After a visit to a hot spring, the sticker is replaced with a stamp. At the end of the day you are left with a nice souvenir of Kurokawa.
Kurokawa has no large resorts or hotel chains. The village does offer ryokans, a Japanese version of a bed and breakfast or family-run hotel. The traditional ryokans were built between the 17th and 19th centuries. They offered travellers a room, breakfast and the use of a common bath. There are fewer than 30 ryokans in Kurokawa so remember to reserve ahead of time. Almost all accommodations have their own onsens. Some rooms in a ryokan even feature a private bath. The rooms are usually quite sparsely furnished with not much more than a mat for a bed and a low table where guests can eat their breakfast. For an authentic Japanese experience, a stay in a ryokan is a must.
A dip in an onsen can bring great health benefits. The Japanese believe that the hot springs are beneficial for various skin conditions and other health problems. This is the result of the composition of minerals in the water and the products used to make the baths, such as granite and Japanese cypress. Each spring has its own healing properties. The baths in Kurokawa are said to relieve high blood pressure, eczema, colds and muscle aches. The information centre in the village will be happy to explain which onsens are good for certain conditions.