By Sandra Isaka
Iwaki Yumoto Onsen is one of Japan's oldest hot springs, dating back 1200 years. The water contains sulphur and is said to help treat burns, skin conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. Located a short walk from Yumoto Station in Iwaki City, Fukushima, Shintsuta is a great choice for travelers looking for a Japanese style hotel in Southern Fukushima.
The hotel's official name is 'Ujo-no-yado Shintsuta', meaning Ujo's inn. Eikichi Noguchi, considered one of Japan's three great poets and children's song writers called himself Ujo. Shintsuta contains a nice gallery dedicated to Noguchi, hence the name. Noguchi was born in nearby Kitaibaraki City, and spent a few years living in Iwaki Yumoto Onsen in the early 1900's.
The hotel is new, or has been renovated very recently. The common areas, rooms, and onsen baths were incredibly clean and clutter-free. The Western-style rooms are very simple, but the beds are comfortable and the bath/shower are emaculate. The Japanese-style rooms are much nicer, and most are quite spacious.
Iwaki Yumoto Onsen is not far from the sea, so the Japanese dinner and breakfast include a lot of seafood. If this is a problem, have someone who speaks Japanese call the hotel to inquire about an alternative menu. Or, check to see if meals can be excluded. There is a really tasty, reasonable izakaya just a few minutes walk from the hotel (toward the station). Their menu is all in Japanese, but there are photos of all the food items and the staff is friendly.
Of course, most people come to Iwaki Yumoto Onsen for the hot springs. Shintsuta has very nice indoor and outdoor baths. They even have a rotemburo that is co-ed for certain hours each day.
Most people who visit Iwaki stay at Spa Resort Hawaiians. I love that resort, and highly recommend it, especially for families. However, it is often very hard to get a room there. Instead, for those who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, attentive service, and a more Japanese experience, Shintsuta is a great choice. And, they offer packages that include a day visit to Spa Resort Hawaiians, so you can have the best of both. Other places to visit in the area include Misaki Park and its Marine Tower, the Fukushima Aquamarine aquarium, and Shiramizu Amida-do Temple.
Parking is free for those who travel by car. Shintsuta is a five minute walk from the station, or there is a shuttle service that you must reserve in advance.
Although Iwaki Yumoto Onsen was not physically affected by the earthquake/tsunami/radiation, the drop in tourism has been devastating. Local businesses and inns are struggling to survive, or have already gone out of business. The area around the station was once lively, but is now almost a ghost town. For the area to 'come back', they really need visitors. Iwaki is easy to reach by car and/or mass transportation, and is a good overnight destination from Tokyo. Plan a weekend sightseeing trip to show your support for Fukushima!
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