This weekend I stayed at a beautiful onsen called Lamp-no-Yado, Aoni Onsen (ランプの宿青荷温泉). Which is located in Kuroishi, Aomori.
Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen is a traditional Japanese inn located in the secluded mountain range of Aomori Prefecture, meaning that once you arrive, there is no cell service. Keeping with the traditional atmosphere of the place there is limited to no electricity as well. The entire facility at night is lit only by oil lamps, which is where the onsen gets its name.
The onsen is open all four seasons, even during harsh winters. However, the winter in Aomori this year has been unusual in that we haven’t gotten that much snow. The outdoor onsens are also open during the four seasons, but they may be lukewarm in winter.
Aoni has four different baths: Kenroku, Uchiyu indoor bath, Rotenburo open-air bath, and lastly the Takimi-no-Yu waterfall viewing bath.
If you want to shower before getting in you should go to either Uchiyu or Takimi-no-Yu. Shampoo and conditioner are not supplied, but there was body wash. I think this is because the onsens are natural and they don’t want products getting into the water.
If you are staying at the ryokan then you are given a yukata to wear and a towel to use, however, if you are just visiting for the day you need to bring your own towel, and maybe something easy to slip in and out of if you plan on going to all the different onsen.
- Kenroku Bath (健六の湯)
- Kenroku bath is located across from the entryway of the main building and is separated by gender. The bathtubs are made of Hiba wood, and are the biggest baths at the facility. In the women’s bath there is a kettle-tub bath outside.
- Uchiyu Indoor bath (本館内湯)
- The Uchiyu indoor bath is located on the first floor of the main building, near the center of the hallway to your left. It is separated by gender, and is made of Hiba wood. This bath was the hottest of the four.
- Rotenburo Open-air bath (露天風呂)
- The Rotenburo bath is outside of the main building, and across the suspension bridge. The bath is the only mixed-bath at Aoni. However, from 11am to 12pm and 5pm to 6pm the bath is reserved for only women. The onsen also has a tub that you can sit in (one at a time) and enjoy the view. When I went I really enjoyed this one, because it was hotter than the main outdoor bath, but the snow was also falling, so you were able to enjoy the winter scenery without being cold at all.
- Takimi-no-Yu (滝見の湯)
- The Takimi-no-Yu bath is located about 20 meters from the Rotenburo, and is also separated by gender. While you are bathing you can observe a 30 meter waterfall on the hillside nearby. You can also use a small open-air bath here.
Oil lamps are lit and brought into the rooms around 3pm to 4 pm. The lamps are adjusted to stay lit overnight. This was fine for me since I can sleep through anything, but for my boyfriend he couldn’t get much sleep because of the amount of light in the room. If you want to read or do something the light really isn’t enough, but is too much to sleep.
The lamps were my favorite thing about this onsen, but they were also my least favorite thing too. I think the idea of having minimal to no electricity and having no service was really nice, and really made for a very relaxing getaway. However, the smell of the kerosene heaters and the lamps were very overpowering at times. I don’t think I would be able to spend more than one night there, but the experience is well worth it! I definitely want to go again, maybe during a different season.
You can also just take a day trip to the onsen. For the day it was only ￥540 or about $5 to use all 4 baths. You have to be careful though about the time, especially during the winter months, since you have to take a bus up and down the mountain to get to the onsen. The bus is free to use as well as the parking lot where you can leave your car.
Location:〒036-0402 Aomori, Kuroishi, Okiura, 青荷沢滝ノ上１－７