Showing posts with label onsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label onsen. Show all posts

Friday, November 3, 2023

Hot Foot 105 the Longest Footbath in Japan


There is nothing more pleasing after a long day of walking than being able to take off your hiking boots and socks and soak your feet in hot water. Ashiyu, foot baths fed by hot springs, are a common feature found on the streets of hot spring resort towns and are usually free to use.

Upon arriving in the hot spring resort town of Obama on Tachibana Bay in Nagasaki after having walked over the mountains from Shimabara on the other side of the peninsula, was pleased to find an ashiyu on the waterfront.

It turns out that this was not just an ashiyu, but the longest ashiyu in Japan and also the hottest.

Hotto Futto 105 is 105 meters long, and 105 is the temperature of the water when it comes out of the ground. For many (most?) this is way too hot, but further down the temperature drops as the water cools.

The previous post was the Inori no Sato "park" just above the town.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Kinosaki Onsen


Kinosaki Onsen is a very popular hot spring resort located near the Sea of Japan Coast in the north of Hyogo;

Part of its popularity lies, I think, with the fact that it is only a couple of hours by express train from Kyoto and Osaka, and is, therefore, relatively easy to access.

For about a kilometer the banks of the river in the narrow valley are lined with Ryokan, traditional guesthouses, and while these all have their own hot-spring baths fed by the same hot water, there are seven public baths of different sizes throughout the town.

Visiting these seven public baths is suggested as the main cultural activity of the town. Putting on traditional yukata and wearing geta, the noisy wooden clogs, you walk around in the daytime and evening from bath to bath watching all the other visitors doing the same.

Of course, along with sitting in hot water, eating local delicacies is another of the cultural traditions associated with hot springs. In Kinosaki, being close to the sea, seafood is plentiful and in winter Snow Crabs are very evident.(photo 4). Local beef is also touted as a delicay.

Photo 2, above, is a display at the town train station featuring geta from each of the ryokan in the town.  Photo 10, below, shows Mandara-yu, one of the 7 public baths.

If eating and bathing is not quite enough for you, then Kinosaki does have some other attractions worth a visit that I will cover in future posts. In the meantime, here is something that I haven't seen covered in any of the numerous online guides to Kinosaki, a delightful karesansui garden

The previous post in the series exploring Toyooka in Hyogo was the Takuan Temple in Izushi.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Takeo Onsen


Takeo Onsen is a hot spring resort in Saga whose symbol is the Romon, Tower gate, that stands at the entrance to the public baths.

The gate is an important cultural property and features on the towns manhole covers.

The gate and the building behind it, the Shinkan, were both built in 1915 by local architect Kingo Tatsuno.

The town is home to numerous hotels and traditional guest houses, but the cheapest was the lodgings at the public baths so that is where I booked a room for the end of my 57th day walking around Kyushu.

Kingo Tatsuno is most famous for designing the original Tokyo Station, now known as Marunouchi Station Building.

I am not a big fan of onsens, but while all the guests were having their dinner I was able to enjoy the almost deserted outdoor bath.

Takeo Onsen is the terminal station for the shortest Shinkansen Line in Japan, the Nagasaki Line. It seems Saga is not keen to have a shinkansen and so from Takeo Onsen to Shin Tosu on the main Kyushu Shinkansen Line you need to transfer to a regular train.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Short Guide to Yamaga


Sakura-yu is a public hot spring in the town of Yamaga, a little north of Kumamoto City. It was originally built as a teahouse for the local Hosokawa lord about 380 years ago, but in 1868 was turned into a public hot spring.

Yamaga lies on the banks of the Kikuchi River. The fertile river basin has been a major rice-growing region since ancient times and Yamaga grew as a merchant town with the trade of rice which was shipped downriver to market. There are several hot spring hotels and guesthouses along the bank of the river.

The most famous festival in Yamaga is the lantern Festival where women dance with paper lanterns on their heads. These are not the usual simple lanterns you see at festivals and outside businesses but look like the ornate, metal lanterns you see at temples and such. The surprising thing is they are made of paper. 

As I mostly explore Japan on foot I am always pleased to find the free foot-baths at many hot spring towns. The one in Yamaga was perhaps the nicest I have seen,

The paper lanterns, as well as umbrellas, are a major art of the town. At the main shrine in the town there is a museum about the lanterns and the festival, and in town there is also a "Folk" museum devoted to them.

The town is one of the many small towns scattered around Japan that use the nickname "Little Kyoto", but in my opinion, it is not apt as the inhabitants were friendly and unpretentious. As well as the trade on the river the town also lies on the main road that connected Kumamoto with Kokura, and plenty of traditional architecture remains.

The town's charm is I think aided by the fact that Yamaga is not on a rail line so is a little harder to visit than the most popular places. More details can be found in my related posts on Kongoji Temple, the most interesting temple in the town and one sire said to be the origin of the lantern festival, the Yachiyo0za Kabuki Theatre, a huge traditional theatre open to the public, Omiya Shrine, another site claiming the origin of the lantern festival, and the Buzen Kaido, the old thoroughfare lined with traditional architecture.