An Onsen Pension in the Middle of Nowhere – Nemurin Oriental in Nasu Kogen
I would like to introduce my favorite place to go to in Japan when I get sick of the crowds in Tokyo. It is a small pension called Nemurin Oriental, situated in the Nasu Kogen region of Tochigi prefecture. It is surrounded by trees, there are almost no shops nearby and as they don’t have WIFI you are less distracted by your phone.
It is perfect if you want to relax in a quiet environment, enjoy nature and take soothing baths in private hot spring baths. Also, the food is nice.
How to Get There
The pension is situated in an area that is not easy to reach by public transport. There is a bus station (Osoyamabashi) close to the pension, however, there are only one or two busses per day so you would have to stick to a very tight schedule.
I would recommend going by car or to travel by train to the closest train station, “Kuroisu”, and rent a car there. A car is also nice to have for sightseeing in the Nasu Kogen Area, as public transport is not very frequent.
If you come by train make sure to bring important items with you, as there is no convenience store in walking distance.
Nemurin Oriental offers different types of rooms. There are Japanese and Western-style double and twin rooms, some of them have a toilet and bathroom and others are without. The rooms without toilet and bathroom are reasonable in pricing. As you will probably use the private hot spring baths of the pension anyway not having a bathroom should not be much of problem. However, not having your own toilet and having to use a common toilet might feel slightly inconvenient.
The rooms and the common areas of the hotel are all decorated in an Asian fashion.
The Hot Spring Baths
The pension has four private hot spring baths that guests can use freely for as long as they want. As long as a bath is open you are free to enter and stay as long as you like. Two of the baths are so called rotenburo (open-air hot spring baths), while the other two are inside. The baths are big enough to fit two or three people at the same time.
The pension offers dinner and breakfast. For breakfast they offer a variety of Japanese and Western style foods in a buffet style.
The dinner is a real highlight. When you go to your seat you will find a plate with various Japanese appetizers arranged nicely. Additionally, you can get rice and salad from a buffet as much as you would like.
The main event of the dinner however is the all-you-can-eat option for steaks, which you should definitively book. You can choose between Japanese and Australian beef. The pension staff will bring the freshly grilled steaks to you table and once you are done you can simply order another one.
What to do in Nasu Kogen
Nasu Kogen is not as popular as other tourist areas but there are quite a few things you can do for sightseeing. There is a safari park, a zoo, an amusement park, an alpaca farm, some small museums and an outdoor climbing park, all of which are only a few minutes by car.
From the places I visited in Nasu Kogen so far, I liked the alpaca farm the best. Unlike the major tourist places, the Nasu area is not as flooded with tourists and you can enjoy a more rural side of Japan.