Rose baths and retro trains in a yuzu-scented village
If you are seeking an off-the-beaten-path destination in Kochi, I recommend Umaji Village! Located east of Kochi City, this tiny mountain village may only have approximately 800 people, but it holds immense charm. Especially with the arrival of autumn, there are several reasons why Umaji is the perfect getaway around this time of year. First off, hot springs!
Umaji Onsen has been around for over 40 years, healing countless visitors with its sodium-rich hot springs. For an extra special treat, come visit on the 1st of every month (until March 2024) when the women’s bath is filled with sweet-scented, elegant roses! After the rejuvenating dip, pick up Umaji Onsen’s takeout meal jam-packed with local, seasonal ingredients in an adorable traditional-style bento box. If you call in advance, you can get these special lunches on weekdays, but otherwise, they are only available on Sundays and holidays, as well as limited to just 10 a day!
Next stop…how about we explore the village on a retro train? Just over 40 minutes by bus from Umaji Onsen, the Yanase Shinrin forest railway is a nostalgic glimpse into the past when the village prospered by producing and transporting Yanase cedar (nationally-prized timber) over 100 years ago! As I ride the adorable train and enjoy the view, I detect a beautiful, citrus aroma…it’s yuzu!
Yep! Umaji Village is one of Kochi’s leading producers of these yellow, knobbly citrus fruits, and none of the farms here use any chemical fertilizers. In just one month, throughout November, the community comes together to harvest the entire year’s worth of yuzu, which adds up to over 800 tons! Yuzu no Mori is a great souvenir shop to pick up all kinds of yuzu-related products, housed in a retro building that once served as a station along the Shinrin forest railway. The autumn foliage collaborates beautifully with the traditional architecture, offering a great photo opportunity