Shibu Onsen – hot spring paradise
You know that feeling when you sink inch by inch into a steaming hot bath, when you pause momentarily to let your body adjust to the heat, then continue to submerge until you feel the water creeping up your neck….if you, like me, love this feeling, then I recommend you stay in this little Japanese hot spring town of Shibu Onsen in the mountains of Nagano.
This traditional Japanese town seems to have been somewhat lost in time with the zigzagging lanterns overhead, original shop fronts and stone tiled narrow roadways. There are quite a few ryokans and if you stay in the town, you are given the key to the 9 public onsens which you can relax in until your hearts content. The word is that if you go to all nine of them during your stay, you get good luck for the next year! And of course, this is exactly what I did – one whole night was dedicated to ‘spa-hopping’ and by the end of it you will probably resemble a small prune but who cares since you get good luck right?
People usually stay in this town or the nearby Yudanaka as it is close by to the Monkey Park where you can see monkeys also enjoying hot springs (unfortunately you can’t enjoy the hot spring with the monkey).
Yudanaka Station is just a short 45 minute train ride from Nagano Station. Then catch a bus up to Shibu Onsen or if you’re lucky, you’re ryokan might come to collect you from the station.