The Baths of the Nara Subaru Hotel

Enjoy bathing in the nature of the Totsukawa region

 By Celine Villeneuve   May 12, 2015

During the pilgrimage along the Kumano Kodo Kohechi trail, weary travelers can and should make a stop at the Subaru hotel for a well deserved moment of relaxation. Despite the isolated location of the city of Totsukawa, the hotel is never empty. Aside from the hikers who journey here via the mountain paths, every day a shuttle bus brings Japanese and foreign tourists to the hotel and onsen directly.

With a high reputation as a local rest stop, Subaru hotel is most famous for the quality of its several outdoor baths. The entire area around Totsukawa is famous for its many natural hot springs, but Subaru excels among the available options and is certainly one of the best in the region.

Taking advantage of the unique, mountainous habitat, Subaru hotel offers its guests the chance to enjoy a rotemburo (outdoor bathing) experience. There are numerous beautifully landscaped outdoor baths that come complete with both therapeutic benefits and amazing views. Subaru claims the baths have the power to heal or relieve various ailments such as neuralgia, arthritis, diabetes, affections of the skin and digestive disorders.

For the more adventurous, it is also possible to test the virtues of a cold bath, but this is not for everyone! The facilities are not mixed, but both sexes can enjoy the landscape in similar ways as male and female baths are rotated daily.

Just outside the hotel, another type of bath awaits visitors. Here, sitting on the wooden edges of a basin, you can rest your tired legs in ashi-no-yu, a foot bath. For ¥800 (¥400 for children), visitors can enjoy these baths as they wish between midday and 5pm.

The Subaru hotel is the largest hotel in the region and many customers come just for the hotel's gourmet offerings. For the meals, the hotel specializes in Totsukawa natural ingredients and serves to its customers only regional products. You can appreciate the freshness of sashimi konnyaku, the softness of amago no shioyaki, a grilled freshwater fish in salt, and the original flavor of yubeshi, a soft food made from miso and yuzu. You can also take these local specialties home with you thanks to the hotel souvenir shop. The hotel grounds, located in the heart of a large park, also house a children's pool, another pool about 25 meters long, and an outdoor amphitheater to host shows.​

Hidden behind the hotel, a peculiar installation allows visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. A tiny wooden hut called "yaen", literally "wild monkey" is suspended by ropes above the river on the principle of a zip line. The city of Totsukawa houses several of these facilities with "human powered ropeways" to help facilitate rapid travels in the vast mountainous region. Using the yaen makes it possible to reach the opposite shore in less than 10 minutes. This name of "wild monkey" maybe comes from the strange position you have to adopt to fit inside the hut.

For a stay at the Subaru hotel including dinner, breakfast and complete access to the baths, it costs around ¥16,000 for a Western room or a Japanese-style room with tatami and futons. A "deluxe" version is available that includes additional options for about ¥18,000.

Japan Travel Manager

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