We visited “Ryokan Sachigaoka” in Hinagukami Nishimachi, Yatsushiro, Kumamoto that opened in 1950s. Although the name indicates “Ryokan” (which means inn), Sachigaoka only offers bathing services. The owner Chiaki says “Sachigaoka is a Ryokan without hotel accommodations...” As far as we heard from him, he spent unusual days when he was younger. He has a lot of funny stories about Hinagu Onsen and of his school days. If you have a chance, go get in touch with him.
In the reception, please push the intercom button. Chiaki will answer.
The dressing room and bathroom are integrated, there is nothing to separate them. This is a traditional Japanese bathhouse design. Simpler is better!
This is the men’s bathroom. The floor is tiled in white and shiny polished. The hot spring water is directly pumped from the ground, and a large amount of water flows out of the faucet. Chiaki said “This is the authentic onsen.” In many onsen spots, hot spring water is once stored in a tank and then distributed to each ryokan and bathhouses. However, Chiaki insists the authentic one should be pumped directly from the hot spring source.
The water is pumped from 90 meters below the ground. Although the temperature is a little bit hot (44°C (111.2°F)), the touch is exceptional. In winter the temperature decreases to approx. 42°C (107.6°F) which is acceptable for everyone.
Chiaki said this hot spring had been opened by his father. His father just casually drilled the ground to discover a hot spring source, and, after the source was found, also just casually started the ryokan business. Chiaki’s family had been the headman in this area, they once had six inns in Hinagu in total. Amazing...
Akihiro (the name of the man in the bath) regularly comes to Sachigaoka. He is an English teacher and also serves as an volunteer interpreter for the staff of cruise ships staying at the Yatsushiro port. He recommends Sachigaoka when they asked him about good onsens nearby. He is yet 30s but has an strong interest in reconstructing desolating towns and Hinagu onsens. Talking to such a passionate person gives us a motivation for our works. We hope he will be successful!
This is the women’s bathroom. As the same as the men’s bath, the bath is filled with a large amount of “authentic onsen water.”
A private bath is also available in Sachigaoka.
This is the lounge next to the bathroom. It’s like a home.
Sachigaoka is located on the way to the Onsen shrine in Hinagu.
After climbing up the hill, you can find ruins of a sumo ring surrounded by square rocks (they are the seats). We saw some pictures of the past in a nearby cafe, Hinagu Onsen was full of visitors and really thriving, that was beyond our expectation. The owner of the cafe said it was a “good age.”
Name: Ryokan Sachigaoka
Address: 394 Hinagukami Nishimachi, Yatsushiro, Kumamoto
Access (Car): 56 min from the centre of Kumamoto city. 50 min from the Kumamoto airport
Parking Lot: 10
Opening Hours: 10:00 - 20:30
Closing Days: Tuesday
Price: JPY 500