Rooftop onsen(s) are really nice no matter what season. I know how I feel when I'm on my way to an onsen, do you? I don't know about you, but for me, a nice drive up a long winding road through Tochigi, a stop here and there, at a rest stop overlooking a breathtaking vista. A little road side diner, some tea, a light snack, a stretch, a piss. Getting back in the car and readjusting my seatbelt, feeling refreshed, checking the rear view mirror, back on the road again. Half a tank of gas left, quick glance at my watch, a sudden impulse to drive faster. On my mind right about then is checking-in at three, so I want to be walking in the front door of the hotel at 2:30, if possible, but my watch says 2:45. I want to take every advantage to be the first in that hot water.
Welcome to Asaya Hotel.
I've been sitting on dozens of photos of onsen hotels since I last published my book on natural hot springs back in 2008. Now, back to doing what I do best, and that's talking about the hot spring; at least this way, some of my detractors can share a common link with me on this topic whereas my more risque topics not. On and in onsen(s) again.
Asaya Hotel is one of the those rare gems that's frequented by Old Timers in Kinugawa Onsen, a hot spring resort located in the city of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. I think what these regulars find most appealing at this hotel are the rooftop hot springs, especially on a cool autumn day, like today.
That was the first thing I did after check in. Race to the room, change into my yukata and head up to the top floor for some relaxation. Afterwards, back down to my room for an ice cold beer to get the blood circulating again, then enjoying some sake and sweets.
The Asaya is a very clean hotel with excellent amenities. The staff are very warm and friendly. The rooms are comfortable and the food is decent. Basically, what you'd come to expect at a Japanese onsen hotel. I won't quote prices here, but last time I was there it was about 8000 yen per person, so about $90. I bet this place would be awesome in the winter.