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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Warakuen 和楽園

Stayed 17.03.2014 (1 night)
Booked thru' Japanican.

Highlights: 

- Ureshino is well known for its skin enhancing hot spring waters and high quality green tea production. Warakuen, a traditional Japanese style hotel, combines these two traits together, offering guests a unque experience. Hotel offers complimentary pick up service to/fro Ureshino Bus Center. If you plan to use this service, you can give them a call in advance or get help from the staffs in Tourist Information Center (I did the latter).


- Booked a Japanese style twin room, with half board included (dinner and breakfast), at 27,000 yen (~170 SGD). Was given a room which overlooked the scenic Ureshino River and onsen town. A small cafe and souvenir shop are located on the ground floor; local products such like green tea and Arita's well known porcelain tableware can be found here.

- Soak yourself in a green tea onsen. There are two communal bathhouses, separated for men and women usage. Both bathhouses are closed from 0000 - 0600 hrs and swapped for the opposite gender usage after that. In the outdoor pool, there is a "tea pot" which adds hot spring water into the pool continuously. Bags containing Ureshino's tea leaves are actually stuffed inside the tea pot, which makes the water source light brown in colour. There are also tea bags placed on the sides for you to rub them on your body; extracting the goodness of green tea into your skin through this process. Spring water in Ureshino is rich in sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride, whereas green tea contains catechin (antioxidant), Vitamin C, caffeine, bringing about anti-bacterial and skin whitening effects.

- Green tea in Japanese cuisine. Japanese style multi course meal was served during dinner. The sumptuous meal started off with a small glass of umeshu, followed by appetiser, fresh sashimi, mushrooms and vegetables boiled in asari clams soup, steamed wagyu beef, sakura glutinous rice dumpling, tempura (bamboo shoot and eggplant), rice with pickles and miso soup, and lastly green tea tofu pudding to cleanse the palette. Green tea was also provided in a bowl in which leaves can be grinded and sprinkled onto the food. Overall, dinner was exceptional.

Sumptuous Japanese style dinner
- Was excited to see Ureshino Onsen's famous yudofu served during breakfast - silky and smooth texture like what we had for lunch in Soan Yokocho the day before. Green tea porridge was also surprisingly delicious and aromatic. Overall dinning experience on both days have been pleasant and secluded since we were given a room to ourselves. Such moments to enjoy meals together as a family have become increasingly precious to me because dinner/breakfast time is always different for every family member (as we return home from work at different timings).

Yudofu and green tea porridge served for breakfast
Conclusion: Ureshino Onsen is still one of my favourite hot spring towns to date (despite writing this review one year later). The therapeutic ambience and smooth hot spring waters have left a deep impression in my mind. There are times when I think of visiting this area again on my next Japan trip. Its tranquility makes one feel at ease and relaxed, far from the hustle and bustle of city life - an element that will attract city dwellers to this place.

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Warakuen 和楽園
843-0302 佐賀県嬉野市嬉野町下野甲33
http://www.warakuen.co.jp/

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