Kurokawa Onsen (쉷) is one of Japan's most attractive hot spring towns, located in the middle of Kyushu about 20 kilometers north of Mount Aso. Well coordinated efforts by the town to maintain a pleasant, traditional atmosphere have kept Kurokawa free of the massive concrete hotels, neon advertisements and loud colors that are encountered in many of Japan's other resort towns.

Instead, Kurokawa's townscape is dominated by natural colors and materials, wooden buildings, earthen walls, stone stairs and a river flowing through. The town center, located in a forested valley, is compact and easily explored on foot, except for a few ryokan which are located less centrally.

The town's lanes are lined by ryokan, public bath houses, attractive shops and cafes, a small shrine and bridges that lead over the river directly to ryokan entrances. A walk through town is particularly enjoyable in yukata and geta sandals provided by one's ryokan. An information center, where maps and other information can be obtained, is also found in the town center.

Kurokawa is not only known for its attractive town, but also for the outstanding outdoor baths (rotenburo) of its ryokan some of which are located right besides a gushing river or impress by their large sizes. The larger baths with good views tend to be located a little bit outside of the town center, while some of the more central ryokan attract with smaller but historic baths, which were already enjoyed by the feudal lords of nearby Kumamoto Castle.

While staying guests naturally have the opportunity to enjoy their own ryokan's baths as often as they wish, it is also possible for overnight visitors and daytrippers to explore other baths in town during daytime and engage in a so called Rotemburo Meguri ("tour of outdoor baths").

For this purpose, a wooden pass (tegata) is sold for 1300 yen, providing admission to the baths of three different ryokan of one's choice (valid for up to six months). It is available at the information center and the over twenty participating ryokan. Alternatively, the cost is around 500 yen per bath. Inquire at the information center for eventual closures on the day of your visit.

In addition to the ryokan baths, Kurokawa has two very simple, unmanned public bath houses with small indoor baths: the Jizoyu is located in the very town center, while the Anayu stands along the river just above the town center and was recently rebuilt after it had been destroyed in a storm in 2020. Admission to either bath costs 200 yen.

Below is a list of some of Kurokawa's best baths:


Daytime Hours: 8:30 to 21:00
Daytime Admission: 600 yen
Overnight Stay: From 19,000 yen per person including 2 meals


Daytime Hours: 9:00 to 21:00
Daytime Admission: 800 yen
Overnight Stay: From 19,000 yen per person including 2 meals

Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki••

Daytime Hours: 10:00 to 20:30
Daytime Admission: 500 yen
Overnight Stay: From 15,000 yen per person including 2 meals


Daytime Hours: 10:30 to 20:30
Daytime Admission: 600 yen
Overnight Stay: From 20,000 yen per person including 2 meals

Oku no Yu

Daytime Hours: 8:30 to 21:00
Daytime Admission: 500 yen
Overnight Stay: From 18,000 yen per person including 2 meals

Yamabiko Ryokan

Daytime Hours: 8:30 to 21:00
Daytime Admission: 500 yen
Overnight Stay: From 17,000 yen per person including 2 meals

Sato no Yu Waraku

Daytime Hours: 8:00 to 21:00
Daytime Admission: 500 yen
Overnight Stay: From 35,000 yen per person including 2 meals

Ratings:    best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding

Getting to Kurokawa Onsen

By highway bus
  • 2.5 h
  • ¥3,470

A direct highway bus runs twice per day between Fukuoka (Hakata Station, Tenjin Bus Center and Fukuoka Airport) and Kurokawa Onsen. The one way trip takes around 2.5 hours, costs 3470 yen and is covered by the Sun Q Pass. Online reservations can be made via Willer.

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By train (for rail pass holders)
  • 3 h
  • ¥3,560 - 5,000

Kurokawa Onsen is not connected to the railway network, but Japan Rail Pass and Kyushu Rail Pass holders can save a few yen by boarding the above-mentioned Fukuoka-Kurokawa highway bus at Hita instead of Hakata. Hita Station is accessed from Fukuoka's Hakata Station by direct limited express train (75 minutes, about 3000 yen one way) or by local trains via Kurume (100 minutes, 1680 yen); both fully covered by the JR passes. The bus ride from Hita Bus Center to Kurokawa takes 70 minutes and costs 1880 yen. There are two buses per day.

Above fees and schedules are subject to change. Be sure to check current yen exchange rates.

Getting around

Kurokawa's town center is small and compact and can be easily navigated on foot. The exception are a few ryokan such as the Yamamizuki and Hozantei, which are located 1-3 kilometers outside of the town center. Daytime visitors without a rental car seem to have no choice but to walk to these more remote ryokan, while staying guests can use pick-up services. Nearby locations with car rental outlets are Kumamoto, Kumamoto Airport, Beppu and Oita.