Aizu Ashinomaki Hot Spring Resort Hotel Ookawaso enjoys a privileged natural setting, perched above a bend of the picturesque Okawa River. Beautiful forests climb the opposite side of the gorge and surround the hotel.
Every season offers a new panorama, as the forest changes colour with the seasons from winter’s snowy mantle to summer green to gorgeous autumn hues. All this in a perfect location just half an hour from historic ‘Samurai City’, aka Aizu Wakamatsu.
Onsen at Hotel Ookawaso
They are serious about the full title, Aizu Ashinomaki Hot Spring Resort Hotel Ookawaso is just that, a complete onsen resort. The beautiful onsen blend into the natural surroundings. Each season brings to the area its own special kind of beauty, which guests can enjoy from any of the outdoor baths.
Shiki Butai Tanada is designed to look like terraced rice fields, while the Kuchu Roten Buro overlooks the Okawa river.
We love getting up early and being first in the Cliff Spa onsen before breakfast, then after a hectic day enjoying local attractions come back for seconds in the larger main onsen.
Entertainment and dining
The Hotel Ookawaso offers much more than onsen. It’s a complete self-contained resort, complete with daily entertainment. From 4-6 pm there’s a musical performance on the traditional 3 string Shami-sen, sometimes known as the Japanese lute. At 8:30 pm it’s time for the vigorous Mochitsuki (pounding rice to make rice cakes) show. You can join in – Mochi pounding is great excercise – and then enjoy rice cakes with kinako powder!
Later adjourn to the Karaoke room to impress fellow guests with your talents. The welcoming lounge bar offers a great selection of local sakes to get you in the mood, never mind make the audience less critical.
Just sitting in the lobby lounge area listening to the stream cascading through the hotel beneath you and enjoying the view and a coffee, beer or sake as you prefer, is a relaxing experience.
There’s a clever little kid’s corner with fun wooden toys to play with in the lounge too.
Their specialty is delicious kaiseki dishes (simple traditional Japanese meals usually served in Zen temples before a tea ceremony) featuring a selection of seasonal foods. The samurai style river fish barbecued on skewers is a highlight.
Breakfast is a classic big buffet featuring fresh delights, baguettes and the egg station.
Accommodation options at Hotel Ookawaso
Hotel Ookawaso has two main accommodation buildings. The original Tsukimi Tei is more traditionally Japanese. The newer Yoimachi Tei sports a modern edge including western style rooms and VIP suites in the mix.
In total the resort can accommodate over 700 guests in 135 rooms. Larger Japanese style rooms are great for groups or families and very good value.
The Aizu region generally has penty to offer year round, from fantastic history to beautiful nature – including high mountains, deep lakes and magnificent forests.
Historic Aizu Wakamatsu City is only 30-40 minutes drive. Tsuruga Castle is a replica rebuilt on the original walls and fortified entrance. It’s especially popular in cherry blossom season in March/April.
The replica Edo era mountain village of Oouchijuku is a step back into life then. It’s most famous for winter, with snow covering the thatch rooves and lanterns lighting the streets, but it’s fascinating to visit anytime of year.
In winter great ski resorts like Alts Bandai are less than an hour away, and for skiers this is a good break between destinations – the Aizu resorts are uncrowded midweeks but can get busy weekends so avoid any crowds by having a weekend off here.
Where is Aizu Ashinomaki Hot Spring Resort Hotel Ookawaso
By train from Tokyo take the bullet train to Koriyama, then the scenic Banetsu line past Lake Inawashiro to Aizuwakamatsu. From there it’s 30 minutes by road to Hotel Ookawaso.
They run one FREE shuttle service a day – pick up at 15:30 arrive hotel 16:00 or depart 10:00 arrive 10:30 – either will work for arrival / departure times to / from overnight flights into Haneda or Narita.
Or change to the Aizu Line to Ashinomaki Onsen Station, which is only 10 minutes free shuttle ride from the hotel – advise your arrival time for pick up directly.
From Asakusa for about 3.5 hours by way of Tobu line and Aizu line, which works well for visiting Nikko on the same trip – you can get to Asakusa direct from Haneda on arrival.
By road use the Tohoku & Banetsu freeways then R120 off the Aizuwakamatsu IC, or R118 getting off at the Shirakawa IC (also the route from Fukushima Airport).
Bookings and more info
To book the Resort Hotel Ookawaso go to their website here
For local tourism info go to the ‘Samurai City’ the Aizu Wakamatsu official site. They have very helpful offices at the station and Tsuruga castle.