According to a legend, this hot spring area is said to have been discovered by fleeing Heike warriors some 800 years ago after their defeat in the battle against Genji and legends of the fugitive Heike clan have survived to this day. Although there has been an increase in the number of tourists and modern hotels, the area still abounds with traditional thatched-roof private houses and hot spring inns retaining the essence of a mountain village.
After checking out, we caught a bus to Tobu Nikko station, took a train to Shimo-imachi just in time to change to a train bound for Kinugawa (Only had a window of 2 minutes to change the train across a platform. The train schedule in Japan runs like clockwork!). From Shimo-imaichi, it took us 45 mins to reach Yunishigawa Onsen station (Kinugawa and Kawaji are stations in-between). One point to note, our All Nikko Pass covered train fare partially till Shin-Fujiwara only, we had to pay another 500 yen per person to the train conductor.
We spared no time to change into yukatas provided and went straight for hot spring. There are 3 hot spring locations within the ryokan, with indoor and outdoor hotsprings. I went for the 'roten ofuro' (outdoor hotspring) and was truly awe-struck. The ofuro overlooked the stream and snow-covered mountain and it was snowing slightly. I don't care if the view is nicer in autumn; to a person who come from a country full of greenery, snow scenery is precious; something I'll remember for a long time. I was like soaking there for 1 full hour until almost dark. Best part, there wasn't anyone else as this was not the peak season.
After dinner, we strolled around the ryokan, shopped a little, went for massage at a coin-operated massage chair, more soaks in another hot spring and finally decided to snug into the comfortable Futon.
Day 4 thoughts: I'm so touched! I'm the luckiest girl in the world!