Hundreds of carp streamers are strung over the swift-flowing river at Kumamoto Prefecture's Tsuetate Onsen every year from April..
Located in Kumamoto, Tsuetate Onsen is a traditional hot spring village that was established in the 1800s. The charming onsen town is one of the region's top tourist attractions, with its rustic buildings and natural hot springs attracting visitors from all over the country. Part of Tsuetate Onsen's charm is the Showa-period back alleyways, where visitors can walk through and feel like they were transported back to the olden days.
It is also commonly referred to as the Inner Sanctum of Kyushu, due to its location between the mountains of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. Tsuetate Onsen also hosts the famous Tsuetate Onsen Koinobori Festival, where 3,500 carp streamers are hung above the Tsuetate River and sway along with the breeze.
The name "Tsuetate" originates from a legend about the hot spring water; its healing properties allowing the weak to leave the springs without the "tsue", or walking stick, that they needed to come here. The onsen water here can be as hot as 98 degrees Celsius, which is a rarity among hot springs across the country. Tsuetate Onsen also boasts a steam bath, that is believed to help blood circulation and improve your health.
Tsuetate Onsen's maze-like back alleyways are called Sedoya, where visitors can enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere while exploring the area. Free hot spring footbaths are scattered around the vicinity for weary visitors to use after a long day of walking.
40-minute drive from Aso City via Highway No. 212
Bus from Aso Station
Take a break from bathing and fill up on curry and parfaits at Cafe Restaurant Warokuya in Kurokawa Onsen
Nabegataki Falls in Oguni is a striking waterfall not too far from Kurokawa Onsen.