This post is the second in a series of places you can get to using the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area). As of July 2022, it's still available for foreign residents to use. First post here.
Onsens can be a nerve-wracking experience for most foreigners. If you can get over the anxiety of feeling exposed, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to unique onsen destinations across Japan. One such place that fits this category is Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen, a ryokan located in rural Aomori (northern Japan).
What makes it special is that the entire place is illuminated only with kerosene lamps. Soaking in the onsen during the day gives you a wide view of the surrounding forest and waterfall. At night, the calming warm water and pitch black darkness beyond the windows puts you in a reflective mood.
For dinner, people are guided to their respective spots where a meal of regional specialities await. Many people were in their yukatas, having visited the onsens just before. In the dim lighting, a dull chatter filled the room. The glow of the kerosene lamps grew brighter as night fell and the weather cooled; their warmth left the windows foggy.
Back in your room, you’ll be left to your own devices. Not literally because there’s no electrical outlets, cell reception, or WIFI. It’s a time to mediate, have deep conversations with your friend(s), or read (hard copies not recommended because it is pretty dim). You could also just go to bed early. If you sleep with the windows open, you can fall asleep to the sound of the river running next to the ryokan.
It’s a place to visit to truly disconnect, where time passes slowly. It’s best to book your stay with dinner and breakfast included since there aren’t any restaurants in the area. To get here by public transport, leaving from Hirosaki Station is the most convenient option.
To get there:
🚅 Local train from Hirosaki Station to Kuroishi Station
🚌 Bus from Kuroishi Station to Nijinoko Koen
🚌 Shuttle bus from Nijinoko Koen to Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen. Timetable here.