Ryujin Onsen: Wakayama onsen
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Ryujin or “Dragon God” Onsen is situated in an isolated valley at the southern terminus of the panoramic Ryujin-Koya skyline highway, which links the sacred Buddhist temple complex of Koyasan with Ryujin. It is one of Japan’s three famous “Bijin-no-Yu” or “Beautiful women hot springs” because of the beautifying effect of the silky, smooth waters. This hot spring has many legends associated with famous religious ascetics including Enno-gyoja, the founder of Shugendo ascetic Buddhism, and Kobo Daishi, the founder of Koyasan. In the Edo period (1600-1868), Ryujin Onsen was a resort area for the warrior elites, who drew great pleasure from indulging in these secluded thermal waters.
Kamigoten or “Royal Palace” ryokan was built in 1657 as a villa for the feudal lord of the area. The Ryujin family has owned and managed Kamigoten for an incredible 29 generations! The elegant 2 story wooden structure was registered as a tangible cultural asset and precious cultural heritage in 1999. Upon entering the foyer, thick, heavy floor boards aged to a rich brown lead to a steep staircase to the guestrooms. The onarinoma (room built for the ruler) is preserved in the same state for hundreds of years. The slightly elevated room hints at the old feudal tradition that no one could be higher than the ruling samurai. The wood-lined indoor baths and rock-lined outdoor bath overlook the Hidaka River. Kamigoten ryokan prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients for their authentic mountain cuisine. Staying in this historic setting is like lodging in an enchanting antique art museum. Drifting off in the silence, one can almost hear the laughter and clinking of swords of past pleasure seeking samurai.
Train Nagoya to Shin-Osaka (Shinkansen, ~50 min, 5,670, unreserved seat)
Train Shin-Osaka to Kii-Tanabe Station (~2hr, 4,620, unreserved seat)
Bus Kii-Tanabe Station to Ryujin Onsen (~1hr 15min, 1,700)
Also possible to bus from Koyasan to Ryujin Onsen (~2hr, 3,110) (busses run from April 1st to Nov 30)
Website: www.aikis.or.jp/~kamigoten (English)
For more information contact:
Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau