No trip to Tohoku will be complete without a visit to Higashiyama onsen town in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima. Recognized as one of the three historical onsen towns in the Tohoku area, Higashiyama onsen town is said to have been established over 1,300 years ago. Located just 15 minutes outside of Aizuwakamatsu City, one of the most prominent samurai towns in Japan, any hotel in Higashiyama onsen town is perfect for someone passing through the Tohoku area. This article introduces Harataki, a perfect onsen hotel for travelers looking to dip in, dine and unwind in perfect Tohoku fashion.
Getting to Aizuwakamatsu and HaratakiThe fastest way to get to Aizuwakamatsu is to hop on either the Yamabiko (Tohoku Shinkansen/bullet train) or the Tsubasa (Yamagata Shinkansen/bullet train) from Tokyo or Ueno station to Koriyama station, which takes approximately an hour and 20 minutes. From Koriyama station, take the Ban-etsu West Line to Aizuwakamatsu for an hour and 25 minutes. The total travel time adds up to a little less than 3 hours and costs 9,100 JPY (79.6 USD). For those traveling on a budget, a bus option is also available from Shinjuku South Exit Bus Terminal directly to Aizuwakamatsu. The ride takes 4.5 hours, but only costs 5,000 JPY (43.7 USD).
From Aizuwakamatsu station, Harataki is a quick 15-minute taxi ride away. For those who want to travel like a local, take the bus towards Higashiyama onsen bus stop for 20 minutes. Harataki is able to arrange for a car to pick you up at the bus stop, but be sure to call in advance! For those who are not familiar with Shinkansen, please read How to get on the bullet train in Japan.
What is Higashiyama Onsen?As mentioned above, Higashiyama onsen town was founded over 1,300 years ago by Gyoki, a Buddhist priest. The onsen in Higashiyama onsen town falls into the category of “ryusan-ensen” (sodium-sulphate hot springs), which are believed to alleviate the pain of cuts and bruises and help with critical skin diseases. Other “ryusan-ensen” hot springs include Tsurumaki Onsen in Saitama prefecture and Zao Onsen in Yamagata prefecture. Higashiyama onsen town is recognized as one of the best onsen areas in the Tohoku region.
Checking in to HaratakiYou can check into Harataki any time after 3 pm. Upon arrival at Harataki, you will be greeted by the spacious lounge area and the warm hospitality of the hotel staff. After confirming your reservation, the staff will give you the usual run-down about the facilities, dining accommodations and the hot springs hours. If you are a female traveler, before heading up to your room be sure to pick out your own “yukata” (summer kimono worn in onsen hotels) and “obi” (bow). There are a variety of colors and patterns that you can mix and match for your perfect onsen outfit, and everything is a service provided for free by the hotel!
Relax in your room
Dine in style with dishes made from the freshest, local ingredientsSpeaking of dinner, Harataki offers delicious food that will satisfy any palate. First is the regular course menu, which showcases local flavors in all forms possible. Guests can enjoy fresh sashimi, fried tempura and more. Harataki also offers a mini all-you-can-eat area, where guests can choose additional dishes to supplement their course menu. All of the all-you-can-eat options pair well with locally grown Aizuwakamatsu rice.
Mosts guests choose to dine in the dining room, with private rooms and quick service for both the course and all-you-can-eat sections. However, you can also choose to dine in your room. Also, in the summer months, guests are able to dine outside by the river and the mountains. After your meal, be sure to cool off and soak in one of the many “ashi-yu” (foot baths) located alongside the river.
Dip into the onsen of your choice
Harataki: Great food, service and hot springs, enjoyable during any season
Whether you are a newbie to the hot springs game or a seasoned onsen expert, Harataki provides everything that a good onsen ryokan should. From the service that goes above and beyond, the outstanding culinary experience or the baths that will leave every guest relaxed, Harataki is truly the definition of a great ryokan. Next time you are considering a trip to Aizuwakamatsu or to Tohoku in general, be sure to check out Harataki and Higashiyama onsen town.
Address: 235 Yumoto, Higashiyama-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture
Price: around 20,000 JPY (178 USD) / person
Access: 15-min drive from Aizuwakamatsu station
Contact: +81 242264126
Website: Book now
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