What kind of place is Yugawara?
Yugawara is one of the leading Hot Spring resorts in Japan and famous for being an onsen (hot spring) town. It is an area where you can enjoy great nature as well as fresh seafood, as it is surrounded by mountains and ocean.
Around Yugawara there are many famous sightseeing areas, such as Atami, Izu, Hakone,Odawara as well as Mt. Fuji. They are all located close to Yugawara. Among the various onsen facilities, there is a footbath called "Doppo no Yu," where you soak only your feet in the hot spring water. It is very popular among visitors.
One of Yugawara's main specialties is its famous tangerine oranges. Around November you can see them growing all over the town. Going to Tangerine picking in a Tangerine orchard is an recommended option, or you can buy fresh Tangerine at shop which Tangerine come from the Orchard directly.
There are also a variety of events to enjoy, from traditional events to seasonal events such as a fireworks display and Halloween. Among others, "Yukake Matsuri," in which groups splash hot spring water on each other's "Mikoshi "(portable shrines), is an event unique to the onsen resort, and is popular among both Japanese people and overseas visitors. Since this is a hot spring town, the onsen waters can be enjoyed in most of the accommodations in Yugawara town.
Moreover, since the Sagami bay is within walking distance, there are many restaurants and Ryokans ( Japanese style Inn ) where you can enjoy many dishes including Sushi and Sashimi made with fresh fishes and shellfishes. Of course, marine sports, fishing and others activities can be enjoyed, too.
Favorable access from Tokyo Station
Yugawara is located in the farthest southwest side of Kanagawa Prefecture, next to Tokyo.
From Tokyo Station, a one-hour ride on the Shinkansen will bring you to Yugawara Station.
From Yugawara Station, you can easily use taxis or buses to get to your hotel or inn, sightseeing spots, and other destinations.
History of Yugawara
The area around Yugawara Town was governed by a general called Doi Sanehira, who served Minamoto-no-Yoritomo, the first generalissimo of the Kamakura era (1185 ～). Even now Yugawara is dotted with historic relics, historical museums, and other points of interest reminiscent of that period. Going further back in time, there is a reference to the way hot spring water is gushing out in Yugawara in Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest anthology of waka poems compiled during the Nara era (710 ～). Yugawara is the only hot-spring resort mentioned in this collection of 4,500 poems, proving that Yugawara has been loved as a hot spring resort since ancient times.
Since the middle of the Meiji era, many writers and artists have visited Yugawara in a quest for its atmosphere of refined tastes, secret hot springs and the historical works that remain in this area.
Yugawara is blessed with a magnificent natural landscape and rich delicacies from both the sea and the mountains. As you stroll along the streets of a resort that has been loved by many people as the best fit for holiday-making and resting, you will feel a trace of great writers' trails and bouts of history here and there.
In the early spring of February, Ume (plum) trees bloom in Ume groves all over hills. In April, cherry blossoms run riot all over town. In May, Satsuki azaleas turn the whole of Hoshinoyama Park into a brilliantly colored landscape. During this beautiful season, Yugawara Town is crowded with visitors who come to view the flowers and blossoms.
Moreover, Yukake Matsuri, the grand festival in which groups splash hot water on each other's portable shrine, is held in May, and a large number of local residents and even visitors including foreigners join in the event.
In early summer, you can enjoy viewing the lights of fireflies which run wild around the rivers and hills of Yugawara in June.
In July, many visitors throng to the beaches for oean bathing, to get away from severe heat in the urban areas.
Fireworks, which are a Japanese summer tradition, are launched from the nearby beach, and you can enjoy both the fireworks reflected in the water's surface and those which soar high up in the air. This fireworks display is unique to Yugawara.
In autumn, an October event of colored bamboo lanterns creates a traditional Japanese atmosphere.
From mid-October to late October is the season of mandarin oranges, one of Yugawara's specialties, and you can go mandarin picking in a mandarin orchard.
In November, autumnal leaves begin to turn red and yellow in various parts of Yugawara, presenting a very wonderful harmony of colors.
In Momiji no Sato, along with the tea-ceremony house itself, you can enjoy the taste of autumn. Autumn foliage can also be enjoyed by just walking along the back alleys of Oku-yugawara.
In winter, white snow falls as if dancing in Yugawara and creates a beautiful snowscape.
Onsen (hot springs) are very popular at this time of the year, and large numbers of people visit Yugawara to soak in the onsen waters and warm up their bodies that have been chilled to the bone.
Many people recommend daring to take an open air bath in this cold season, as the experience of feeling simultaneously hot and cold is supposedly very interesting.
If you are lucky enough, you can see snow falling while soaking in an outside bath.
This way of bathing is treasured by Japanese and considered a wonderful and luxury experience.
Yugawara Onsen has a history of 1,250 years
Onsen Banzuke in the Edo era in whch Yugawara Onsen was graded
Since the hot springs in Yugawara are mentioned in MANYOSHU, Japan’s oldest anthology of waka poems, it is supposed that they were already in use in the Heian era.
Onsen waters were recognized as very valuable because of their effectiveness in curing warriors of the wounds they suffered in battles.
Later, in the Edo era, when onsen trips became widespread, an onsen banzuke (ranking list) was made in imitation of a sumo banzuke. In it, hot spring resorts throughout Japan were divided into East and West and then graded.
Yugawara Onsen was ranked as the East's third best onsen resort, in the Edo era.
This is one of the facts showing that Yugawara is an onsen resort that has enjoyed high support among the Japanese throughout the ages.
The effects of Yugawara Onsen
Yugawara's onsen is effective in warming you up to the bone and keeping you from cooling down easily. It, also, has an excellent heat keeping feature that sustains a warm temperature for a long time.
Since Yugawara Onsen water is a weak, common salt spring with a moderate amount of salt, it causes little skin irritation and leaves a smooth, tactile impression.
Furthermore, since it contains gypsum, it has been known to promote early recovery from bruises, cuts and operations.
The gypsum spring is often referred to as the onsen water for injuries.
Historical documents from the Edo era say, "Onsen water...is generally effective, especially in getting rid of bodily pains."
Yugawara Onsen was chosen as a health resort for wounded people during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars in the Meiji era.
Since calcium ions contained in gypsum have a sedative effect, the onsen water will give you a chance to rest both mind and body.
Moreover, it is good news for ladies that gypsum makes the skin flexible, and that sulfate ions strengthen the elastic fibers of the dermis and prevent wrinkles. Thus you can expect those components to be effective in making your skin beautiful.
They also have the "soap effect" of removing old keratin from the skin.
How to take an onsen bath
Step 1. Wash yourself.
Be sure to remove dirt from your whole body before entering the bathtub.
To do that, sit on a stool in the washing area, and use the shower to wash yourself thoroughly with shampoo and liquid soap.
Step 2. Kakeyu
Kakeyu means scooping hot water from the bathtub with a basin, pouring it on your body and inuring yourself to the hot water. Start kakeyu by pouring hot water on your feet, and gradually move on to the upper part of your body.
Step 3. Enter the bathtub.
Enter the bathtub slowly.
While bathing, it feels very good to put a cold towel on your head, and it will prevent you from feeling dizzy.
Step 4. Get out of the bathtub.
After getting out of the bathtub, don't take a shower, so that the effects of the onsen last longer.
Dos and don'ts of Onsen Bathing
- ① Never take a bath after drinking alcohol. It might cause dizziness or a headache, and in some cases it might cause you to faint.
- ② Even if the onsen water feels too hot, don't cool it down with cold water.
- ③ Don't put your towel in the bath water.
- ④ If you have long hair, please do up your hair in a bun or towel so that it will not get into the bath water.
- ⑤ You are not allowed to take a bath with swimwear on.
- ⑥ Hydrate yourself properly after taking a bath.
- ⑦ At some hotels and inns, people with tattoos are not allowed to take a bath. (Please check with your hotel or inn in advance.)
Types of Onsen facilities
What is Ashiyu?
Yugawara town has some facilities for Ashiyu (footbath), where you soak only your feet in onsen water. Sitting and soaking your feet in warm spa water feels good, of course, but in Yugawara town's ashiyu facilities, the bottom of the footbathtub is textured to stimulate pressure points on your feet, so we strongly recommend walking in the ashiyu water and
experiencing the massaging effect.
You can experience Ashiyu at the facilty called Doppo no Yu, to where you can take a bus or a taxi from Yugawara Station. There are also some RYOKAN ( Japanese style inns ) where you can experience Ashiyu.
What is a guest room with an open air bath?
Some ryokan in Japan have guest rooms with attached, open air baths.
Generally, baths are a public experience, taken together with various people. But where an open air bath is attached to a guest room, you can enjoy an onsen bath in your own private space, and spend a very luxurious time.
Naturally, the accommodation charges are higher, but it is definitely worth it.
Ryokan ( Japanese style Inn )
A ryokan is an accommodation with a traditional Japanese building structure and equipment. Japanese Concierge services (OMOTENASHI) offered at a ryokan will enable you to experience Japanese culture.
Its guest rooms are Japanese-style rooms, and some ryokan have some guest rooms with an onsen or an open-air bath. If you reserve dinner as a set with your room reservation, you can enjoy Japanese dishes, or a Kaiseki multicourse meal, which represents Japanese tradition, within the comfort of your accommodations.
If you reserve a accomodation without meals, you can go to one of the restaurants around your inn.
Check in & check out
Check in times vary from ryokan to ryokan, but you can check in from 15:00 at most places.
If you have reserved a dinner as a set, many ryokans begin to serve dinner at 18:00 or 19:00, so please allow to arriveat least one hour before that time, at the latest.
If you are going to be late, contact your ryokan.
At most ryokans, when you check in, you are supposed to identify yourself at the front desk by presenting your passport or other ID with photo.
After that they will to confirm the method of payment and charges.
If the payment has already been made through online settlement or others, the staff will show you to your room after confirming the payment.
Arrival at your ryokan
When you arrive at your ryokan , the staff will usually come to greet you.
If no one comes to greet you for some reason, just say "Gomen-kudasai (Hello)", we are sured that some one will come to greet you immidiately.
Since you are not allowed to wear shoes inside the ryokan, take off your shoes at the entrance and wear the slippers supplied by the ryokan before going to your room.
Step1The staff will come to greet you.
Step2Take off your shoes at the entrance.
Check-out times vary from ryokan to ryokan, but you can generally check out between 10:00 and 12:00.
Accordingly, you will generally be requested to have breakfast between 7:30 and 9:30.
It is good idea to let front office know that your check out time in advance, so that some one can help to carry your luggage from your room.
After confirming that you have left nothing behind in your room, go out of the room and return your key at the front desk.
You can check out after settling all the accounts and completing your payment.
About guest rooms
There may be some differences depending on the design of the structure or pricing range, but most ryokans have the following points in common.
- ① Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats
- ② As a "welcoming gift" from the inn, Japanese sweets are placed on the table for you.
- ③ You can help yourself to tea by making tea yourself with the hot water pot, the teapot and tea leaves on the table.
- ④ You can find bedding (futon, sheets and pillows) in the closet.
- ⑤ Yukata and amenities such as toothbrushes and towels can be found in the closet, too.
- ⑥ Most toilets are Western style, but some may be Japanese style.
Some guest rooms are equipped with private open air baths, for an additional charge.
Help yourself with welcoming gif such as Japanese sweets and cookies.
You can enjoy warm green tea by putting tea leaves into the teapot and pouring hot water over them.
You can set up your futon yourself,
You can set up your futon yourself,
but you'll usually find it already made by the staff when you return to your room after dinner.
Western style toilet in a guest room.
Dishes served in a ryokan
Japanese cuisine has been added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
At Yugawara's ryokans, you can enjoy authentic Japanese dishes prepared by first class chefs with refined skills, using fresh seasonal local ingredients. For example, you can enjoy sashimi and sushi made with fresh seafood, tempura and hot pot dishes made with seasonal vegetables and edible wild plants, and Kaiseki multicourse meals, combinations of various traditional Japanese dishes, all unique to each ryokan.
At a ryokan, you can enjoy a typical Japanese breakfast.
An example of a typical Japanese breakfast is: rice, miso soup, a soft boiled (also called "onsen") egg, grilled dried fishes, pickles, grilled fish and Japanese green tea. ※Foodstuffs and dishes vary from ryokan to ryokan.
In a ryokan, you can enjoy traditional Japanese dishes for dinner.
Kaiseki multicourse meals are made up of several dishes such as tempura and sashimi, but ingredients vary from ryokan to ryokan.
Their features are that only fresh ingredients are used for each dish, that they are very delicate dishes, and that they are very tasteful as well as the presentation is beautiful to look at.
Because Yugawara is located very close to both ocean and mountains、you can enjoy Kaiseki dishes which use fresh seafood, edible wild local plants and vegetables. They go very well with beer and Japanese sake.
Washoku frequently served at inns besides these
Tangerine orange picking
From October to December is the season of Tangerine orange picking.
The secret to the tastiness of Yugawara's Tangerine are the sunny hillsides and the warm ocean. Abundant sunshine and the warm climate are key to the production of sweet Tangerine.
Please enjoy the taste of freshly picked fruit.
Kibimochi is a cake made from millet and rice flour, and coated with soybean flour. Its soft and elegant sweetness will arouse a sense of nostalgia. It's one of Yugawara's specialties. At many ryokan, "kibimochi" is served as one of the welcoming sweets services for their guests.
Odawara Oden (various fish cakes stewed in a broth)
Odawara has been known as one of the original city in Japan to start fish cake (paste) products such as Kamaboko which is now known as Odawara's specialities.
This oden is known for making the most of whitefish paste like kamaboko and local foodstuffs.
Instead of mustard, "umemiso," the mixture of miso and pasted ume (plums), also one of Odawara's specialties, is added to Odawara Oden.
Kamaboko (Steamed fish cake)
In addition to being the castle town which controlled the strategic points on the Tokaido road, Odawara is a port town that also boasts the landing of abundant fish. Kamaboko, made ou of various whitefish caught there, and by using high quality water from the Hakone water system, has since spread all over Japan.
Owakudani's black eggs
Black Onesn Eggs with black shells are made by hydrogen sulfide reacting to the eggs boiled in onsen waters containing a lot of iron.
"Enmei Jizoson," the guardian deity for longevity and child rearing, is deified in Owakudani, and it is said that by eating one of these eggs, you can have a share of good luck, as well as have seven years added to your life.
Hakone Tororo Soba
The main feature of Hakone Tororo Soba (buckwheat noodles topped with grated yam) is the yam which is grated for the topping.
A type of yam called Jinenjo is used for this soba. It is stickier than ordinary Chinese and Japanese yams that are generally sold in stores.
Jinenjo is also kneaded into the soba itself, which gives it a rich flavor and aroma.