By Sandra Isaka
Just north of the World Heritage area of Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture, lies Kanegasaki, a lovely town that is known for its historic samurai district. If you visit the area by car, consider staying overnight at one of the town's three Ryokan-hotels. All of these are located in Kanegasaki's 'Heartland', an area filled with rolling hills and dairy farms. They offer friendly service, reasonable prices and real hot spring baths. There is also a campground in the area and a family-run inn at the center of town for those who are traveling to Iwate by public transport.
Kanegasaki's top Ryokan-hotel, Midori-no-Sato, has thirty-one rooms. Seven of these have twin beds while twenty-two are Japanese-style, (with tatami mats and futons). The other two are a combination of Western and Japanese style. Connected to the hotel's main building is a large 'onsen' facility. This has some wonderful outdoor baths overlooking a private garden. There is also an ice skating rink (open from late November to the end of March), which turns into a kid's indoor play area during summer. From mid-February to early June there is strawberry picking on-site. Most of the facilities also welcome day-trippers. https://midorino-sato.jp
Sengaishi Onsen Yumoto Azamakan is another lovely little Ryokan-hotel in the countryside of Kanegasaki. It sits on a small hill overlooking a tiny pond and is surrounded by greenery. Yumoto Azamakan is clean and well kept, with thirty Japanese style rooms, (half have a toilet in the room, half do not) and an excellent outdoor hot springs bath. Guests are served meals filled with local specialties in their rooms by smiling and friendly staff.
For those on a serious budget, consider Nagaoka Onsen's Yume-no-yu, a small Ryokan-hotel that has forty rooms. Some of these have twin beds and others are Japanese style. The hot spring water here is famed for its 'silky' feeling. Be aware, however, that Yume-no-yu does not have an outdoor bath. In addition, the rooms in the new wing have toilets while in the old wing they are shared. Simple home-cooked meals are served in a cafeteria-style setting, which provides a great opportunity for making friends with Japanese guests. If you enjoy golf, you can play a round or two at the Kurikoma Golf Club next door. http://www.kurikoma-golf.com. If you are staying somewhere else day visits to the bath are also welcome; http://www.rnac.ne.jp/~yumenoyu/
From April to November, it is also possible to rent a campsite, or a cabin large enough for eight people, in Senganishi Forest Park. This is a great choice for travelers who like to hike as there are multiple trails to choose from. For more information, call 0197-44-3682, (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm).
If you are not traveling by car and would like a reasonable place to stay in central Kanegasaki, Minshuku Sato is a wonderful choice. Just ten minute's walk from Rokuhara Station, the Sato family has hosted many non-Japanese guests and they provide a simple, 'down home' friendly atmosphere. Rooms are traditional Japanese style and meals are enjoyed in a communal dining area with other guests. For shoppers, a giant AEON shopping center is just minutes away on foot. Address: Iwate, Kanegasaki, Mikajiri, Kamishibukawa 8-2. Phone: 0197-44-2352.
All of the accommodation listed here are about thirty minutes drive from the nearby World Heritage Hiraizumi town
As an intercultural consultant & Japan travel specialist with 20 years in Japan, I love sharing my favorite places with others.