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Takaragawa Onsen

Takaragawa Onsen sits along the Takaragawa River outside of Minakami Town. The riverside baths are spectacular, but the initial experience of walking into the main building is similar to being invited into the house of the crazy cat lady who lived up the street from you when you were a kid. There are rambling passageways filled from floor to ceiling with dusty bric-a-brac that seem to date back to pre-war Japan. This sense of being lost in some mad woman’s basement is further extenuated when you stumble out of the winding passageways into the bright light of day, only to be greeted by—not cats—but the sight of bears pacing nervously in their small cages.

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