Late in the afternoon it was time to take the sightseeing bus out to Higashiyama Onsen, the hot spring area in Aizu Wakamatsu. The bus stop is at the bottom end of the valley and it was a five minute or so walk up the hill to get to the ryokan.On the main road on the way was this rather retro looking strip joint. I'm not sure how much custom it gets, but I'm led to believe that most hot spring resorts have at least one less than salubrious establishment.
The ryokan I stayed at was called Harataki, named after the falls that flowed down the river behind it. From the rooms you can here the constant roar of water and the evening view is quite spectacular. Of course the baths are the main attractions of hot springs, and Harataki have got it just right. The communal baths are great, and there are also four private baths (as above) you can book for a 50-minute slot.The spring water here is a rather warm 56 degrees Centigrade, but once you get used to it, you're in for a real treat.
The food was also great with half being a set course and the rest being a buffet system. This suited me down to the ground, as I often find that the set menus you get at many ryokan are so big that I can't manage all the food. I'm sure that you could feed a small family on one person's servings.
All in all, quite possibly the best ryokan I've stayed in to date, and I'll definitely want to come back at some point.