Higashiyama Onsen: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the Effort

2012.04.01: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi


"A bit worn down and overdeveloped," is how one guide describes Higashiyama Onsen, the main onsen resort area of Aizu Wakamatsu, and where we stayed during our visit. Ahh, if only life were like Disneyland, where everything was perfectly nice and tidy.

Higashiyama's many behemoth ferro-concrete hotels leave an imposing impression to be sure, especially the several apparently uninhabited ghost hotels. But you know what struck me the most? The 8th generation owner of the inn we stayed at said the closed-up businesses are the town's greatest concern, and that his outfit themselves had recently purchased their 4th property to rennovate and revitalize.

Higashiyama may not be the happiest place on earth, but the river-side onsen baths, the exquisitely prepared local cuisine, the captivating interior design of the inn, the night time stroll we took in our yukata gowns and geta sandals up and down the narrow streets along the river are the memories that will last us a lifetime. And I applaud the efforts being made to make the town even more memorable.


Shintaki's banquet room

Onsen town with a river cascading down the middle -- gotta love it.

'Warn down and overdeveloped'? Look closer. Onsen Shrine's torii gate lit up at night.

Intriguing wood-construction Mukaitaki

Rundown concrete ghost across the river from historical Mukaitaki -- Higashiyama's yin and yang


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