Tags: bathing, 黒川温泉, hot springs, Japan, Kurokawa, onsen, ryokan
Recommendations for Travelers:
If you are looking for a traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan, in the famous hot springs of Kyushu, Japan, I highly recommend Kurokawa Onsen 黒川温泉.
Try http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/db/kurokawa/index.htm (English) or
http://www.kurokawaonsen.or.jp/ (Japanese) for more information.
My personal recommendation:
If you are interested in privacy while bathing (most public bath houses are divided into Men’s and Women’s baths), I recommend my favorite ryokan. It is called Tairoukan 大朗館 (online info in Japanese here or here). They have friendly service, an exceptional 8 course dinner, and a number of private baths to choose from, including one that features a waterfall and is especially pretty in fall when leaves are changing. You will need to make a reservation in advance. Sometimes they have an English-speaker on staff, but not always. You could try using a Japanese travel agent to make your reservation for you.
Country Code +81; Tairoukan Inn number: 096-744-0908
From the Fukuoka JR Station, follow the signs or ask directions to the Nishitetsu Tenjin Bus Center. Take the bus to Kurokawa Onsen. This bus will take you a 4 minute walk from the heart of Kurokawa. But if you are staying at Tairoukan, you should arrange to have the owners pick you up at the bus stop because they are about a 5 minute drive away.
*English Timetable for bus available at: http://jik.nnr.co.jp/cgi-bin/Tschedule/menu.exe?pwd=gb/menu.pwd&mod=F&menu=F
*Make bus ticket reservations at 0120-489-939 or 092-734-2727 (I have never had a problem getting tickets the same day, but you might want to just to be safe).
Addendum for Gay Travelers
Most baths are public, where men and women are divided into separate baths. Private baths can be used by members of the same or opposite sexes, or families. A friend of mine who is gay traveled to Tairoukan with his partner and found no problem with it. The younger innkeeper understood, and put their two futons together, but the elder innkeeper chastised him for his “mistake” and separated the futons. My friend then just pushed the futons together after the innkeepers left. While there is a lot of homophobia in Japan, traveling to an onsen with a gay partner shouldn’t be a problem. People here consider bathing together to provide “skinship” (Japanese wordplay on kinship), and consider it standard practice for people of the same sex to bathe together.