Next year for my birthday, take me to...

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be another gorgeous day out there...and I'm going to be at work. Although, it's a bit hard to complain when I've just had a week off...ha ha! And it was gorgeous and I pretty much wasted it away...tomorrow is looking pretty nice too. Both days will be in the mid-20s with mostly sunny skies. It'll cloud over and turn to rain on Monday and it's expected to continue through Tuesday and maybe even Wednesday. It should clear up by Thursday though...

How come nobody ever told me about Hakkei? I've lived in Hiroshima for like 10 years and this is the first time I've seen any info on this place. I'm always whinging to my students that there are no good hot springs near Hiroshima and they all agree, but in fact there is one (actually, there are a few, but that's for another day).

Hakkei is located in Okayama Prefecture (next to Hiroshima and only a short bullet train ride away) at the Yuhara hot spring. The inn is a traditional-style ryokan easily accessible and accommodating to everyone; families with children, overseas visitors and vegetarians are all welcome at Hakkei.

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The waters

The ryokan has one of the best vantage points in the whole Yuhara hot spring area, overlooking the picturesque Asahi River and valley. The waterway itself is known as “the river of hot water” since many of the onsen aquifers also feed into it.

There are plenty of springs to choose from and it’s even possible to bathe in naturally heated rock pools right next to the river. The sound of the running waters and the abundance of nature in the area will make you forget about all your stresses (not to mention the fact that your naked in public-it tends to make you forget about other things...ha ha!). Private rotemburo (outdoor baths) are also available at the inn for those of you without an exhibitionist fetish. I'll be hitting the riverside one for sure-you only live once, right?

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The cuisine

One of the highlights of the onsen is the dining experience at the inn. Chef Masahara’s concept uses over 50 distinctly local vegetables in his effort to “provide a dining experience that is closely engaged with mother nature using fresh and nutritious vegetables.” The dishes include meats and fish as well as hot-pots but the kitchen can also accommodate special meals for children and vegan guests.

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The rooms

There are both Western-style beds and Japanese futons to choose from. I don't know about you, but I always like to sleep on a futon when I'm at a ryokan. It just seems weird using a bed. There are nine different types of rooms, the largest of which can accommodate up to five people. Four other room types also boast private outdoor baths, as well as unique living spaces—all comfortably furnished. In-room aesthetic treatments are available for a relaxing indulgence sure to leave your mind and body refreshed.

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Well, I'll leave the aesthetic treatments (meaning expensive massages) to the ladies. Just give me breakfast, dinner and about three or four chances to hit the hot springs and I'm happy! Oh, and beer. I'll definitely need a beer...so, who wants to take me? 

Have a great day!


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