Totsukawa, Nara

Regenerative hot springs and mystical forests

 By Celine Villeneuve   Mar 4, 2015

Those interested in exploring Japan's great outdoors will find Totsukawa the ideal destination. Located in the mountainous region of Nara Prefecture, the city revolves around its immense landscape. A rural destination, Totsukawa has an area that greatly exceeds that of Osaka but with a population of less than 4,000 inhabitants.

Bamboo and Japanese cedar trees populate the mountainsides. Through the forests of green, however, there are numerous hiking trails for the adventurer. Among them is the famous pilgrimage path Kumano Kodo registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the pass of Hatenashi, the most daring walkers can reach the Kohechi path, a "little path" that spans over 72km.

A little further, by crossing the red suspension bridge over the river Kanno, traces of the famous trail continue along Miura-toge pass. Here, you sink into a thick forest and come across a path of trees that have survived for thousands of years. Most famous among them is a beautiful, giant sequoia tree that cannot be missed. Whereas most of the trees along the path display a perfectly straight trunk, this ancient sequoia is unique with its twisted and imposing form.

Perched on the heights of Totsukawa at almost 1000 meters of altitude, the Tamaki-jinja Shrine also offers a nice hike. On the way, you will find many white pebbles, witnesses of the pilgrimage from those coming from the start of the path at the Mie Prefecture beach. But the real treasures of the visit are the beautiful paintings, hundreds of years old and adorned on the sliding doors inside the buildings.

After long hours of walking the winding paths of the Kumano Kodo, the benefits of soaking in the natural hot springs in the area are immeasurable. Many travelers make the trip up the paths only to enjoy the warmth of the onsens, while viewing the beautiful mountain settings.

Subaru Hotel offers its customers the chance to try the rotemburo experience, an outdoor bath carefully landscaped with views of the surrounding mountains. Their baths are so popular that a shuttle bus makes daily round trips between the hotel and the stations Kintetsuyagi, Gojo and Shingu. For ¥800 you can enjoy the hot spring facilities as you wish or for a longer stay including hotel night, access to the baths, breakfast and dinner, the cost will be around ¥14,000. The restaurant of the Subaru hotel is also an attraction in itself. The meals are of great quality and created only with products of the region.

If you are looking for a more local and friendly experience, a night at the inhabitant in the heart of Totsukawa mountains, may be perfect for you. The locals will be delighted to help you discover their specialties and travelers are always very well received.

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