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No Deer in the Hot Spring! Maruo Onsen’s “Ryokojin Sanso” Inn

Onsen Sommelier Musashi
Published Feb 24, 2016

I first came here 10 years ago. Now I come here every season, 4 times per year, to this hot spring resort. Up till now I always used to go to the private bath “Akamatsu no Yu” that often features in commercials and magazines, but this time it was occupied so I went to another private bath. This inn is called “Ryokojin Sanso”.

Warm-up in the foot bath with the great view

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The first thing I did after arriving at Ryokojin Sanso is to try the foot bath. “Ryuseki no Yu” is a foot bath installed in the inn’s garden. It’s named after the legend of the dragon stone (read the note below). 



From here you can see not only Kirishima’s nature, but in good days even Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Bay. Sulfuric hot water is gushing from a giant stone in the middle of the bath and warms you up for the upcoming hot spring experience. 



Note: The legend of the dragon stone as explained on the sign next to the foot bath.

Many years ago a dragon lived in this bare mountain which didn’t even have a single tree. One day the dragon decided to fly up and beyond the sky which angered the gods and they turned him into a stone. The dragon turned into stone fell down to earth and couldn’t move anymore. Even now you can see dragon stones scattered around the mountain. People named this place “Ryuseki” (dragon stone).

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No deer in the hot spring! The private bath “Momiji no Yu”

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I’ve been to Ryokojin Sanso more than 40 times, but this was the first time I went to “Momiji no Yu” bath. As you walk through the forest to reach the bath you will come across a sign saying “No deer in the hot spring!”. You might laugh but there are indeed wild deer living around and sometimes they come out of the forest while you’re bathing. 


Personally I’ve seen them twice before. At first I was surprised, but the deer’s cute faces made me happy and relaxed. If I estimate it, my deer-encountering rate is 5% which is so-so. Maybe seeing a deer is a lucky sign?

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A private bath surrounded by the trees

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Walk along the stone-paved path among the trees and you’ll reach “Momiji no Yu” bath. This place was featured in JR Kyushu’s commercial and posters which starred the famous actress from Kagoshima prefecture Manami Konashi. But even though the sight seemed somewhat familiar to me, I couldn’t remember the commercial until I was told about it. Regretting that I still don’t know enough about Kagoshima’s hot springs.

The changing room is a Japanese-style wooden bungalow with a tile roof. The atmosphere suits the surrounding landscape.

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Here you can hear the sound of the birds and the wind

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“Momiji no Yu” bath has nice curved shapes and the hot water comes out of a hollow bamboo stick from one side of the rocky bath. 


Relax in this fantastic open-air bath and listen to the sounds of nature: chirping birds, wind and murmuring of the water stream.

This hot spring has thermal water. Ryokojin Sanso has two hot spring sources: one of thermal water and one of sulfuric water. A day trip bath is allowed for just 50 minutes which pass so quickly.

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Maruo Onsen’s Ryokojin Sanso

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You can visit Ryokojin Sanso on a day trip and soak in the private open-air bath. Additionally, you get access to the large indoor bath. This inn has two hot spring sources and looks different in every season. You might even encounter cute wild deer.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in kirishima and also compare the prices with airbnbs in kirishima

Be sure to stop by if you’re visiting Kirishima

Hot spring name: Maruo Onsen Facility name: Ryokojin Sanso Address: Kagoshima prefecture, Kirishima city, Makizono-cho Takachiho 3865 Telephone: 0995-78-2831 Water type: Thermal water (“Momiji no Yu”) Good for: Nerve pain, muscle pain, joint pain, etc. Day trip hot spring: 500 JPY (for the indoor bath) Private hot spring: 1000 JPY (50 minutes)

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