[Hotel Reviews] Shikoku: Rotenburo Heaven at Hotel Kazurabashi - Vikingess Voyages

Thursday, September 7, 2017

[Hotel Reviews] Shikoku: Rotenburo Heaven at Hotel Kazurabashi

Among my favorite parts of traveling around Japan is to stay the night at traditional Japanese ryokan hotels. Although small in size and often operated by families they often provide a service that would be worthy a five-star hotel (check out my introduction to Japan's 10 best ryokans here). During my recent trip to Shikoku we had the delight of spending a night at Hotel Kazurabashi, a family-owned ryokan-style hotel taking its name from the popular sightseeing spot located in the neighbourhood; the Kazurabashi bridge.

Above: A flower arrangement inside the hotel seen from underneath

This post is divided into the following sessions:

The Guest Room

With only 28 rooms available this little ryokan is best booked early in advance if you want to make sure that you'll be able to stay. We stayed at one of their regular Japanese Style rooms, but the ryokan also has a luxurious room with private outdoor rotenburo hot spring bath included.

Above: Regular Japanese style room
As usually for Japanese style hotel rooms they don't prepare your bedding before your arrival, but rather while you're enjoying your dinner. Below you can see the room ready prepared for us.

Above: After we got back from dinner the room had been made ready for us.

Above: Complimentary wagashi snack to the right

Above: Room key to the left, yukata bath robes to the right

Above: Refridgerator with beverages to the left, cup noodle provided by the hotel to the right

Above: Water boiler to the left, safe to the right

Above: Complimentary toothbrushes and other amenities. 

The Dinner

Dinner was included in our room package, and was prepared for us in a large communal dining room on the second floor. We got our own large dining table that had a large charcoal grill in the middle of the table where grilled fish and other dishes had been prepared for us.
Above: From the communal dining room
Above: The family gathered for dinner
The dinner consisted of a multi-course Japanese dinner made of locally produced ingredients. At the first glance you might not think that those small dishes would be able to fill you up, but as you eat the staff will stop by your table to take away the empty dishes and to replace them with yet another one, and before you know it you'll be happily stuffed. Good thing the Japanese cuisine is not heavy!
Above: The multi-course Japanese dinner.
Above: An elegant plate of sashimi (raw fish).
Above: Grilled spears with fish, potatoes, tofu and konyaku.

The Onsen

Even though we had an absolutely fantastic dinner my favorite part of staying at this ryokan was visiting their hot spring onsen baths. The most interesting thing about the onsen was that the hot spring baths were situated separately from the main ryokan building, and the hotel had a private cable car that you could use to get to the onsen baths. Located right behind the ryokan building was also a hidden path, so one could choose between going to the hot spring baths by taking the cable car or going for a stroll through the forest.

Above: The entrance to the little cable car

Above: The path through the woods for those who prefer to walk up to the outdoor hot spring baths
Above: The cable car taking guests up to the outdoor hot spring area
In addition to a regular indoor onsen the ryokan also had 3 outdoor rotenburo (露天風呂) hot spring baths; one for men, one for women and a konyoku (混浴) where men and women are allowed to enter together.

Above: Private time at the konyoku rotenburo
The ryokan also had a couple of private onsen houses that could be rented for 2,160 yen/40 min for those interested (available for rental between 15:00-21:00). These were located along the small pathway leading up to the main onsen baths. We didn't go for that option though, having stayed at the ryokan during a Sunday (usually the day of the week with lowest occupancy rates for hotels) we could enjoy the onsen baths almost in private most of the time.

Above: The outdoor rotenburo hot spring
The Japanese hot springs are known for their positive health effects. You can find some more details about the onsen at Hotel Kazurabashi below:

Hot spring water quality:
Simple sulfur spring (hydrogen sulfide type - 単純硫黄泉)

Help agains:
Arthralgia · Muscle pain · stiff shoulders · Motor paralysis · Stiffness of joint · Chronic gastrointestinal disease · Hemorrhoids · Coldness · Fatigue
Above: A couple of bathtubs inside the rotenburo area
Above: One of the bathtubs and a tanuki statue
For those who prefer to bathe indoors the main  building of the ryokan does have a regular indoor onsen as well. This might also be a good alternative for when you're short on time, for instance if you want to take a quick bath on the day of departure.
Above: Indoor onsen
Above: Indoor onsen
We really enjoyed using the ryokan's onsen, and had the chance to get totally relaxed thanks to the beautiful surroundings. Since it's a smaller ryokan (and we visited on a Sunday) we were also lucky with being able to use the onsen baths mostly in private, which made the experience even better. This ryokan has definitely one of the best onsen I've visited so far in Japan.

Other Facilities

Above: Tranquil Japanese garden
On the plateau of the hot spring baths we also spent some time in a traditional Japanese hut located to the right of the cable car platform. Inside this hut there was another table with a charcoal grill in the middle, like the one in the dining hall. Here we could relax and enjoy the nice atmosphere and smell of the grill.

On the day we visited it was very foggy,  but on a clear day you could also enjoy the view of the valley from the hut.

Ashiyu Foot Bath
In Japan people don't wear any swimwear at the onsen. For those feeling uncomfortable with bathing naked with strangers (even for the baths separated by gender) there is a ashiyu foot bath available if you got through the little hut and out at the back. This foot bath can be used by both genders at the same time, so if you want to hang out by the onsen and chat with friends and/or family regardless of gender this is the place to go.

Above: Foot bath accessible for all guests

Night Tour
Guests staying at the ryokan can sign up for a complimentary night tour to the nearby Vine Bridge and Biwa waterfall. This tour is offerend on a first-come basis so if you're interested I would advice that you inform the hotel early. The tour takes about 30 minutes.

At the ryokan you can also find a tea lounge (open: 8-20:00), a night lounge (open: 20-23:00) and a small souvenir shop (open: 7:30-21:00) all available for your entertainment.

For information about how to get to the hotel you can check out this table taken from the hotel's home page:


JR岡山駅から - Access from JR OKAYAMA Station
土讃線・特急南風で約90分 大歩危駅下車、タクシーで約15分
Take the Nanpu (南風) limited express train on the Dosan Line (About 90 minutes)
Get off at Oboke Station and take a taxi (15 min)

JR徳島駅から - Access from JR TOKUSHIMA Station
   → 四国交通(路線バス)にて約70分 → ホテルかずら橋前下車
2)土讃線乗り換え大歩危駅下車 → タクシーで約15分

Take the Tsurugisan (剣山) limited express train on the Tokushima Line (About 70 min)
1)After 70 min, get off at Awa-Ikeda Station (阿波池田駅)
   → Take the local Shikoku Kotsu bus (About 70 min)  → Get off at the Hotel Kazurabashi Mae (ホテルかずら橋前) bus stop
2)Take the Dosan Line to Oboke Station (大歩危駅) and take a taxi (15 min)
* Please note that this schedule was updated as of September 2017 and might not be up to date with the current bus schedule

Above: A stone lantern and small Japanese garden outside the entrance to the ryokan

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below

Basic Info

Name of Hotel: Hotel Kazurabashi
Star Rating: 3 ★★★
Access 15-minutes by taxi or 20-minute by bus from JR Oboke Train Station. 
Check in: Check In 3PM - 7PM
Check Out Until 10AM

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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