Hitoyoshi-onsen Hot Spring
The historic "Small Kyoto" in Kyushu is the home of good-quality hot springs and delicious shochu (distilled spirit).
Hitoyoshi is located by Kuma River, which flows through the southern part of Kumamoto Prefecture and is one of the three most rapid rivers of Japan. It is a castle town that is referred to as "The small Kyoto in Kyushu." Since it is a basin with frequent fog, it is also called the town of fog. There are more than 50 sources of hot springs in the city, and hot-spring inns and public baths are scattered over a wide area.
It is considered that Hitoyoshi used to be a lake in the distant past. The submerged trees fossilized, and hot spring waters containing abundant organic substances flow out of the geological layer that contains the fossils. It is a mildly alkaline hydrogencarbonate spring that is tender on skin, and gives a refreshing cool feeling. There are more than 25 public baths within the city, used by many people as a place for relaxation.
The specialty of Hitoyoshi that is worth noting is a distilled spirit made of rice called Kuma Jochu. The product received a special geographical designation, similar to scotch or Bordeaux wine. Only the sprit made in this region is allowed to be named Kuma Jochu. Because its deep richness and mellow fragrance go together well with any kind of food, the spirit is becoming more and more popular throughout the world. Kuma River is famous for thrilling river rides on a wooden boat. Recently, it is also becoming a popular spot for rafting, rushing down the torrent wildly.
Address: Nishiaida-Shimomachi, Hitoyoshi City, Kumamoto
Phone: 0966-22-1370 (Hitoyoshi Onsen Tourist Association)
Directions: (Train) 5 minutes on foot from Hitoyoshi Station on the JR Hisatsu Line (2 hours 40 minutes from Hakata Station). (Car) 10 minutes from Hitoyoshi Interchange on the Kyushu Expressway.