My husband and I recently enjoyed three days at Sukayu Onsen, Aomori Pref., May 2013, so early Spring, and found it a wonderful place. The ryokan is about 300 years old and the sulphurous baths are antique, all wooden and authentic. Access is easy, by bus on which you can use your JR Pass, from Aomori Station or the Aomori Shinkansen station. We arrived there after spending a couple of days further north, at the tip of Aomori, on the Shimokita Peninsula, a sacred Buddhist site beside a crater lake. There was still a lot of snow around Sukayu Onsen, and on Hokkoda-san volcano nearby. But that didn't stop us, there is a scenic bus service that takes you over the mountains to Lake Towada, that, again you can use your JR Pass on. We spent a day hiking the beautful Oirase Valley, surrounded by Spring flowers and much new green growth in the forest, with the river and waterfalls gushing with snow melt that had caused Towadako to overflow, i.e., we walked southward, upstream to Towado crater lake, then caught the bus back to Sukayu. Another day we took a boat across Towada Lake. Sukayu is a special place, and we received much kindness from our host Taro-san, who speaks English. Dinner each evening were traditional ryokan spreads served in our tatami room, featuring much seafood, probably sourced from Aomori Bay. We recommend this unique experience, and hopefully next time we can return in the summer or autumn when we can perhaps climb the surrounding volcanoes.
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