Thanks to a good friend of ours, we discovered the delightfully fabulous Takaragawa Onsen hidden deep in the mountains of Gunma prefecture! Go there in autumn, go there in Spring. All the seasons look magnificent here!
En route to the area, we stopped in at Nagatoro Gorge for a picnic. Sadly the autumn leaves had not changed away from the mountains! Last time I visited here – it was such a delight! Still, even in early autumn it was beautiful and full of refreshing air and 90% less autumn leaf hunters!
After this we pressed onto the onsen itself. It is one of a handful of mixed onsen left in Japan. Men go with just their standard small towels and women are made to wear a somewhat hessian-like sack that leaves little to the imagination. Still, the experience was magical and it was fun to experience it with the rest of my family for the first time.
The hotel loans you yukata – a sort of formal bathrobe – that you can wear from the moment you arrive, through all the meals and onsening you can fit in, until your departure.
On our way home we stopped in at our favourite so-good-it-shouldn’t-be-in-the-mountains pizza place, and went apple picking. Because when in Gunman, in autumn, it is the thing to do.
Jake naturally picked one of the premium Fuji apples in the not-for-picking-area out of enthusiasm, and luckily for us he got away with it. We ate so many apples and took a bag or two home with us, and ate a serve of apple pie for good measure.
Gunma is one of my favourite getaways from Tokyo – so much to see and do and all relatively accessible if you have a car!