The first time I visited I was enthralled by the view and the charm of this place. The next time I visited I was moved by how good the hot spring was. You can feel the owner’s aesthetics, obsession, and taste in many parts of this amazing onsen hotel. Of course you can take a visitor bath as well. This place is perfect for both those that emphasize hot spring quality, as well as atmosphere.
More auberge than onsen inn?
Most travelers will head from Shinano Omachi on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to Ougisawa to the east towards Ougisawa, but if you took left on the way there up alongside the Takase-gawa River you reach the Ozuka Onsen area in about 10 minutes.
There are only 3 hotels in Ozuka Onsen. But is well known amongst those in the know. Amongst those the Onjuku Kajika is my favorite. You might wonder “is this really an onsen hotel?” by the look of it, because it is really classy and looks more like an auberge in Karuizawa or a small museum.
A fancy entrance
Start the journey to Onjuku Kajika by parking your car. The entrance is corridor like as pictured above. There is a tasteful set of benches that look pretty comforting after bathing. There are paintings on the walls that if you just looked here would make you think this was a museum or gallery of sorts.
An indoor bath made from Umbrella Pine
First thing first! To the onsen! Start with the indoor bath.
The design is simple yet stylish, but it has a bath tub made from Umbrella Pine in the center. It may be a bit dark in here but the large window gives a bright and picturesque view of the surrounding woods. The balance between dark and light and contrast seems to be well thought out.
You can be happy just by sitting in the hot water while gazing at the view in this indoor bath. The feel of the umbrella pine bathtub against the skin is awesome as well.
Having said that the best part of Onjuku Kajika is the outdoor bath we look at next.
The outdoor bath that just feels too good to be true
The first time I saw this outdoor bath my heart skipped a beat. Such beauty and perfection. I had to tip my hat to the architect while enjoying this bath.
With just a minimal amount of emphasis, the place is designed with Japanese style with its use of wood and the focus on admiration of nature. The scenic beauty is created from a delicate balance.
The whole outdoor bath is also covered by a roof which allows you to bathe in bliss, even in the rain or for those of us who worry about getting sun burnt.
Another thing is the water is perfect, springing up directly from the source, with a soft scent of sulfur.
You can truly enjoy both the surrounding nature and the fresh hot spring at the same time.
I have been to many outdoor onsen baths but this one is my favorite in terms of view. Here you will find so much bliss that you never want to get out of the tub or will forget when you have to leave.
Enjoy a relaxed easy going time after the bath as well
After thoroughly enjoying the bath, you can have some tea at the restaurant with a view, or view the paintings in the gallery. But I urge you to just sit and relax on the bench at the entrance while still warm.
There is a wonderful feeling as the breeze flows and just listening to the birds chirp as the trees sway. I think that’s how you really can enjoy the comfort of Onjuku Kajika.
[Name] Onjuku Kajika [Address] 398-0001 2106 Taira Takaseiri, Omachi-shi Nagano Prefecture [Tel] 0261-22-1311 [Visitor bath hourse] 10am to 3pm [Price] adults 800 JPY, children 500 JPY
[Onsen type] basic onsen, basic sulfur onsen [Water use] straight from spring (not heated, added water, no antibiotics) [pH] 7.4, 8.0 (neutral, weak alkaline) [Temp] 84.8℃･82.8℃
Of course if you have a chance, stay the night. This is in my must stay list of dream hotels. I wonder when I can make that dream come true. Either way I definitely am heading back soon for just a visitor bath at the very least.