I love the beautiful setting of Rotenburo Onsen. Normally, the water is clear. Some volcanic Onsen hot water is white. In Yufuin, Oita, there are some Onsen with cobalt blue hot water. I have been to a couple of those. The view from the Rotenburo was green but not special. However, the water was truly blue. It has a silky feel to it.
In 2003, I went to Shoyanoyakata (now called Tsukanoma) as a day visitor. It was a large traditional house (before the earthquake). There was no one else other than my parents and me. The atmosphere there was a bit like ‘forgotten old toy’ laying in the corner of the toy room. Everyone has moved on from this place. It wasn’t like the hip new hotels popping up in Yufuin at the time. My parents loved this old fashioned Onsen bath house. They went back there every year after that.
In 2013, I took my husband and my 3 year old daughter there. We hired a car and drove from Fukuoka to meet my parents at the house that I arranged to rent in Yufuin (sorry no English site). The house was about 10 minutes from the town centre by car on the hill. It had a hot spring water rock bath. It was a good large house for 5 of us. The house was surrounded by green hills and tree. Cows, deer, snakes, racoons. Full of nature. My daughter was particularly happy about the deer antler found in the grass.
Because of the location of the house (on the hill with no public transport), we rented a car. If you are staying in town centre, you can go by train. JR Kyushu run special trains from Hakata to Yufuin. Some train fans line up to take photos as the train come into Yufuin town.
Walking around in Yufuin Town reminded me of my childhood. Traditional houses, rice field, narrow roads and children who are free to roam in the street.
Other than Shoyanoyakata, I have stayed a bit more up market Yasuha Hotel. I would stay there again. It seemed more relaxing than Shoyanoyakata. Maybe because I went there before my daughter was born….