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Shirabu Onsen

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Shirabu Onsen

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Shirafu Onsen (白布温泉) is a tiny hot spring village near Yonezawa, Yamagata, Japan.

Understand

Shirafu, "white cloth", probably received its name from the vast blanket of snow that wraps up the entire valley in winter: by February, there's often over 2 meters of the stuff. The village is so small that the original inns didn't even have real names, instead going by "west", "center" and "east" depending on which side of the road they're on!

Get in

The nearest major train station is Yonezawa, two hours from Tokyo by Yamagata Shinkansen, while the nearest airport is in Sendai. Yamakō Bus [2] runs from Yonezawa station to Shirafu, but the service is infrequent: seven-eight buses per day, running roughly every 90 minutes from 8:05 AM to 6:30 PM. The trip takes 40 minutes and costs ¥840. Note that the bus continues a few min onward from Shirafu Onsen to the Tengendai ski lift at Yumoto-ekimae (湯元駅前).

Get around

Shirafu is easily covered on foot.

See

Do

  • Tengendai Ski & Trekking, 0238-55-2236, [1]. Ski resort right next to Shirafu, with 7 courses covering 6000m. Ski and snowboard rental available. ¥4200/day.

Buy

Eat

Outside the inns, there's one single noodle shop in the village, which is open sporadically. The ski resort also has a restaurant open in season.

Drink

Sleep

  • Azumaya Ryokan (吾妻屋旅館), Shin-Takayu Onsen, 0238-55-2031. This rustic lodge is located another 20 min up the hill from Shirafu, being the sole inn at Shin-Takayu Onsen (新高湯温泉). Despite ryokan prices, facilities more resemble a mountain hut, with basic home-style cooking, guests expected to lay out their futons and no shower facilities. But the bath selection is unparalleled: in addition to the indoor bath, there are five (5) outdoor baths, ranging from two large rock baths with valley and waterfall views to tiny one-person nekko baths carved from hinoki tree trunks. The water is clear and virtually sulphurless, although there's a fair amount of harmless "onsen flowers" (visible mineral flakes) in it. All outdoor baths are mixed, although there's a slice reserved for women only. Free transfer to/from Shirafu bus stop. From ¥11700/person.

Contact

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