I must say that Japanese people cannot live without Onsen (hot spring). During the vacation time, Japanese travelers typically stay at Ryokan (inn) with Onsen. It is a way to relax and be rejuvenated.
Since another purpose of our trip to Japan was to celebrate my father's birthday, we took him to an Onsen while we were in Kumamoto. We picked an area called Kurokawa, a very famous Onsen place in Kumamoto.
The Ryokan (Inn) where we stayed was called "Shinmeikan." Originally we wanted to stay at another Ryokan, but it was all booked even 2 months in advance. However, we were very pleased with "Shinmeikan." Most Ryokan have several soaking pools as did Shinmeikan. It had two outside baths called Roten (one coed, and one private), two cave baths (one for men, one for women), and two inside baths (one for men, one for women). I didn't have the guts to go into the Roten with men in the same bath, so my hubby and I rented the Roten for our private use. Roten is great, as you can feel the nature around you on your flesh. I'd rather bathe by myself, but hey being with hubby was also okay :-)
Another thing to enjoy at Ryokan is the cuisine. People typically check in around 3pm and take a dip in Onsen before dinner (maybe having one or two beers or sake before dinner, too), and then enjoy a huge dinner. The dinner at Shimeikan was also huge but great. It started out with small dishes with veggies, tofu, and Sashimi (raw fish), and Basashi (raw horse meat - Kumamoto's famous delicacy).
Then more dishes such as grilled fish, grilled meat, soup, and Tempura were served. I forgot what else, but we had A LOT of food.
I hope my dad enjoyed our birthay present.