Tag Archive: Kyushu



When we reached Arden Hotel Aso in Minami-Aso, we didn’t have any high expectations. Lying in a village in Kyushu, Japan, the onsen hotel must have been neglected much throughout the pandemic judging by its peeling wall paint along the corridors. But its vast garden was well-kept and the resident rabbits look well-taken care of. The rooms are very clean though, and the food superb. The kitchen crew must have stayed along with the garden staff. This you can tell by the quality of its kaiseki dinners. As for the onsen and hot spring baths, we had the area nearly all to ourselves. A choice of indoor and outdoor onsen, as the mood dictates. Swell!

Arden Hotel Aso
The Garden is perfect for strolls and meditative breaks. Be prepared to meet the resident rabbits!

In winter, it’s agonizing to decide whether to try the outdoor onsen and hot spring baths or to simply check out the indoor onsen. Just walking from the hotel in yukatas to the spas within the complex — a very short walk, actually — can be an ordeal because of the freezing weather. But the indoor onsen is far from being a poor choice. My only complaint is that I could hardly tolerate the hot temps as I dipped in. That is why the outdoor onsen makes so much sense!

No cams allowed inside so these are photos from the hotel website.

We all enjoyed the onsen prior to dinners and breakfasts while we were here. And in the afternoons soon after our day excursions, the gardens provided some perfect breaks for meditation or just me-times. Our spacious rooms looked out to these gardens and the autumn foliage added much to the garden’s charm. In spring and summer, these gardens seem perfect for weddings. I can imagine round tables littering the beautiful rock garden, the food and cocktails served under the maple trees, a string quartet just around the garden rocks and many rabbits jumping around the lawn.

These are the covered corridors towards the outdoor onsen. Used by both humans and rabbits.
Cocktails in spring/summer temps should be good here. This looks out to the garden.

And yes, I mentioned kaiseki dinners. The breakfasts were good too! If one’s skipping the day excursions, staying in for these meals could even be a treat! Our first was topped by Aso beef, a kind of wagyu that may not be of the same quality as your Kobe or Matsusaka beef, but Aso comes from Akaushi cattle raised in this area. You’ve just got to try it!

Aso Beef is this omakase’s highlight!
While the Aso beef shabu shabu is good, I was drawn more to the sea bream carpaccio here. And that tempura is really gooooooood!

Mt. Tsurumi Ropeway


Located on the border of Beppu and Yufu in Oita Prefecture is this volcano towering over the hot spring town of Yufuin. Initially, we planned on hiking Mt. Yufu, but thankfully, our guide had the nerve to discourage us from doing the Mt. Yufu trek. Instead, we chose to ride the aerial lift line towards Mt. Tsurumi.

Beppu Ropeway is just a hop and a skip from the Beppu Onsen Resort (Umi Jigoku Springs) where we had our foot bath. All around, we glimpsed steam vents. And up on the cable car, we were awed by the autumn foliage rolling under the lift as the car climbed up Mt. Tsurumi. The hike offers 2 options — one either starts the trek from the lower ropeway station, or ride all the way up and then walk the last few meters to reach the summit. We were an assortment of travel buddies whose sense of adventure spans a wide range. 😊 And so we opted to climb easy, or so I thought 🙄

The youngest member of our hiking party ran up the steps while the rest gingerly climbed one step at a time. I was gasping for air and broke my climb with frequent oxygen breaks. The summit may not be that high at 1,375 meters but my lungs don’t know that. Huffing, we made it and we lingered for many posterity shots. The panoramic view at the summit takes (a few more) breaths away, even as temps dipped to 0 Celsius. Brrrrrr……We were only too happy to take the same cable car down to the station and then enjoy our foot bath in the steamy, hot springs of Beppu. That, plus an onsen adventure before bedtime and our day’s complete!

For more blogs celebrating life, check out :

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com

http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/liliram/

Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lifeisacelebration