Having only one night in Takayama, and really wanting to try an outdoor onsen (also known as a rotenburo, or outdoor hot spring) in the scenic Japanese Alps, I found myself running at full speed from the center of Takayama to the Nohi bus station on the edge of the city, desperately trying to make the 1.40pm bus (with less than 10 minutes to spare).
And I was so glad I made it, because Hirayu Onsen is just as impressive (read: magical) as Takayama.
Look at the height of the snow! (with a selfie for scale)
The scenery was stunning
First things first: try and find a rotenburo. Turns out their was one 5 minutes from the bus stop, so that was relatively easy.
Step 2: Work out how to use the onsen without looking like a idiot/accidentally insulting everyone.
Outside the onsen
Admittedly having no idea what I was doing, I decided to just try and copy everyone in front of me. To begin with, strip off completely and store everything in a locker (with just a tiny towel for your modesty), followed by a thorough scrub in a communal shower (and remaining seated the entire time), and finally, walking outside through the freezing air and slowly submerging yourself in the almost 40°C sulfur-infused water.
It was certainly surreal - sitting naked in a hot spring (with other naked strangers), with panoramic views of snow covered trees, the Japanese Alps, and elderly cleaning ladies nonchalantly pottering around and mopping up.
It felt like I'd been sitting there for hours, and somewhat dying from the insane heat of the mineral-rich water, I thought I better go get changed and perhaps make a run for the bus back to Takayama.
But barely 15 minutes had passed. Oops.
Oh well. I was dressed, and feeling insanely warm and relaxed - I might as well check out the almost-insignificantly labeled waterfall on the edge of my scrunched up tourist map of Hirayu Onsen. I mean, I had time to spare, I guess.
Passed a ski slope on my trek to the waterfall
The hike took a lot longer than I expected (my map consisted of squares and circles on A4 paper - most likely constructed in Word or MS Paint), and I have to admit I was becoming a bit disillusioned.
Godammit. Why did this hike have to be uphill, of all things.
Because it's a waterfall - I tried to reason with myself. That's, uh, how they work.
The path was becoming increasingly snowy; one wrong step, and you would fall through it to your waist.
As this couple discovered
Following the river uphill
Oh, but it was so worth it. Because this was the view that greeted me at the end.
It was completely frozen - where there should be water there was instead ice. A waterfall in name only, it was more like a sculpture - with a certain eerie undertone due to the unexpected silence of the valley.
After standing in awe for at least 20 minutes, I turned around and reluctantly headed back for the bus. Although no longer in sight of the waterfall, the view was no less stunning (okay, maybe slightly less impressive).
- May January
- Mon 29 December 2014Temples, shrines, and Irish pubs (oops)
- Sun 28 December 2014Temple run and too much sake
- Fri 26 December 2014Hiroshima
- Wed 24 December 2014Things I've noticed since coming to regular Japan
- Mon 22 December 2014Last day in Okinawa
- Mon 22 December 2014A very Okinawan Hanukkah
- Sun 21 December 2014Onna Industrial Festival
- Sun 21 December 2014Last week at OIST
- Tue 16 December 2014A surprisingly good time to go to Russia
- Mon 15 December 2014Cape Hedo and Hiji Falls
- Mon 15 December 2014Vires Acquirit Eundo
- Mon 15 December 2014Chicken skin (and other assorted delights)
- Sun 14 December 2014Bread 1.0
- Sun 14 December 2014More things I've noticed since arriving in Okinawa
- Tue 09 December 2014The Heart Attack Murder Burger
- Tue 09 December 2014Spongebob and the birthday pig
- Mon 08 December 2014Kourijima
- Mon 08 December 2014Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
- Sun 07 December 2014Americana teppanyaki
- Sun 07 December 2014Searching for yeast on a Friday night
- Mon 01 December 2014Pineapple Park
- Sun 30 November 2014Castles, pancakes, Naha and more
- Fri 28 November 2014Attempted drive to Ishikawa
- Thu 27 November 2014Walk through Tancha
- Tue 25 November 2014Things I've discovered since arriving in Okinawa
- Tue 25 November 2014Settling in at OIST
- Mon 24 November 2014Accidental business class
- Sun 23 November 2014Delayed in Hong Kong
- Sun 16 November 2014A Siberian adventure