Straddling the Toyosawa River in the low mountains west of Hanamaki, the Osawa Onsen hotel complex is one of the most inviting traditional ryokan in northern Japan. The original structure remains with various additions spanning to the modern, allowing for affordable rooms in the old building to comparatively expensive rooms in the newer. There are a total of seven hot spring baths scattered throughout Osawa, including an exquisite (but very hot) unisex outdoor pool right next to the river.
The most appealing section of Osawa is the Jisuibu. This area is designed for longer stays, and offers traditional rooms for about 3,000 yen per person per night. A kitchen with gas burners, cutting boards, and sinks is available for preparation of your own meals. (A small general store is right across the street.) There is also an affordable restaurant with an extremely talented chef on the first floor of the Jisuibu building.
Osawa Onsen is one of a string of ryokan following the hot springs along the Toyosawa, and arguably the most beautiful. In the warmer months you can hike trails up the mountains to the shrine of the phallus god Konsei. In the winter, a bus stop in front of the hotel will take you to Namari Ski Slope in 10 minutes, a charming little ski resort with prices that can’t be beat.
Because of its remote location few non-Japanese make the trip to Osawa, but those that do often return. Uncertain whether to keep it a secret or tell all their friends, foreigners you meet will inevitably smile to find another who cherishes this hideaway.
Accommodations available at Osawa Onsen
There are three choices:
Sansuikaku (phone: 0198-25-2021)
Sansuikaku offers high-end elegant traditional rooms from 13,000 to 18,000 yen a night per person, including a luxurious Japanese dinner served in your room and a breakfast buffet (Japanese and Western). Customers at Sansuikaku have exclusive access to two onsite baths; a communal bath and a private bath, in addition to other baths in the whole Osawa complex. You can see images here. See their online reservation service for deals and arrangements. (Hotel websites are in Japanese only. Try an automatic translation engine for general info.)
Kikusuikan (phone: 0198-25-2233)
Reasonable Japanese-style rooms in a thatched roof building are available from 7,000 to 10,000 yen a night per person, including dinner and breakfast at an amazing onsite restaurant. There is noattached bathroom. You can see images here. See their online reservation service for deals and arrangements . (Hotel websites are in Japanese only. Try an automatic translation engine for general info.)
Jisuibu (phone: 0198-25-2315)
These are budget rooms in a truly retro Taisho building for around 2,000 to 3,700 yen a night per person (with communal bathrooms). You pay extra for items you may need for the stay (210 yen for a yukata, 210 for a mattress, 210 for a blanket, 74 for a sheet, 10 for a pillow, 300 for heat and so on). If you find this add-on system troublesome, you can buy a basic package deal for around 3,500 yen. For meals, bring your own food and drink (available right outside the Onsen complex and at a little shop near the front entrance) and cook at the communal kitchen. Or, dine in the restaurant Yahagi, which even the locals frequent for fantastic Japanese food at reasonable prices. See images here and deals here (Hotel websites are in Japaense only. Try an automatic translation engine for general info.)
Location: Hanamaki, Iwate
30 mins by car from Hanamaki Airport
30 mins by car from JR Hanamaki Station
35 mins by car from JR Shin Hanamaki Station
15 mins by car from Hanamaki Minami (south) highway exit
Shuttle bus services and local bus lines are available from JR Hanamaki and Shin Hanamaki stations as well.