-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
Last month, I went to a day hot spring named Ooedo-onsen Monogatari in Odaiba, the reclaimed land area in Tokyo Bay, by the Yorikamome train. It had been a long time since I had last taken this metropolitan government-run Rinkai Line.
Though I have been to many spas in Tokyo, it was my first visit to the spa (opened in 2003) that calls itself a Tokyo’s first and only hot springs theme park.
The building is constructed in traditional Japanese style.
While a main change house is situated next to a bathing area in other spas, it’s in entrance area away from a bathhouse. I mean, visitors have to change into Yukata (a Japanese bathrobe) for using the facilities.
Left: Visitors choose one of yukatas at the rental counter in the entrance zone.
Right: I chose this oiran (a high-class prostitute) yukata on which I shall never put again.
I experienced a moment of déjà vu when I went inside it. Then, I reminded Raumen Museum I visited last May (the previous post). The themes of the two spots are different: while the museum is decorated with the image of 1950s Tokyo, the spa’s theme is Tokyo in the Edo Period (1603-1867). However, “theme-park-style” commercial facilities, which were popular from 1990s to the early 2000s, are similar in tone to each other.
The day spa reproduces streets at the festival in ancient Tokyo consisting of restaurants, food stands, souvenir shops, and attractions like fortune-telling, blowgun darts, ninja-knife throwing, etc.
The bathhouse is situated in the streets.
The bathing area was quite attractive. There were plenty of facilities including one filled with 100% natural hot-spring water pumped from 1,400 meters underground, small ones with different temperatures, open-air baths, dry and steam saunas, etc. The spa provided other services: spa treatments, Japanese-style full-body and foot massages. There were multiple resting rooms and large tatami rooms where you can relax.
Though it had everything needed for a day spa, personally, Ooedo-onsen offering extraordinary experiences wasn’t my kind of spot. I want to use one as an extension of our daily lives, so I felt its interior and service directing to be superfluous. However, it’s a perfect place for beginners of Japanese onsen and foreign tourist.
Japan is in midst of the Golden Week holidays, a week between April 29th and May 5th, in which a lot of people return to their hometown or go on trips. I don’t travel during this period, but instead, I usually spend my free days hanging around in the Greater Tokyo Area.
We went to a day spa, Manyo-no-yu spa, in Yokohama yesterday though it was unfortunately raining. This is said the spa provides hot spring water directly brought from Yogawara and Atami (the famous hot springs near Yokohama), but the water in its bathtubs has lost traits of original natural hot spring water. I would rather call it chlorine water.
However, I prefer it among several spas in the waterfront areas for the gorgeous view from outside bathtubs and all the equipment and facilities for all ages and diverse base. There are large bathtubs, open-air baths, the rooftop foot-bath with the view (in the opening photo), saunas, family bathrooms, relaxing rooms, various facilities for relaxation and esthetic treatment, restaurants, an Internet corner, game arcade, private rooms for party, hotel facilities, and so on.
Left: It’s really relaxing to watch boats came in and out of port from an open-air bath.
Right: The large relaxing room
After taking a lot of sauna and rest, we headed to the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, a historical building used as a complex including a shopping mall, banquet hall, and event venues, where Oktoverfest Yokohama has been held during the Golden Week.
Oktoverfest is a beer festival held annually in Munich, which is one of famous events in Germany. In recent years, an Oktoverfest style beer fest that gathered brewers in Munich and Japan has been held around Japan. Visitors can enjoy various beers and German foods. It’s the 10th in the series in Yokohama, and I think it’s popular among Yokohamans. There were a great many people in hard rain.
We wavered between many beer stalls. A TV reported the fest.
The venue was so crowded that we gave up having German dinner and moved to the Yokohama China town. I switched drink from beer to Chinese wine and had a quick meal before we went back.
An Example of a Bathtub in a Hot Spring Resort
Do you have plans to come to Tokyo sometime soon?
If you’ll not be able to take a stay-over trip to Onsen (温泉: hot spring resorts) because of a tight schedule, in Tokyo there are plenty of places where you can feel like you are visiting real Onsen. That’s half a day of free time you need. Just bring yourself.
I visited a number of day spas in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area.
I pick up two treasured spas among them. You can reach them within 1-hour form main part of Tokyo.
Jindai-ji Hot Spring “Yukari” (深大寺温泉ゆかり)
Location: Chofu City, from Shinjuku 20 min by train + 10 - 20 min by bus or taxi
The nearest station is Chofu (Keio Line).
Price: 1,650 yen (including rental towels and a pair of pajamas)
Feature: It’s nice and cozy with Japanese Ryokan flavor. The indoor bathing area is not so spacious but comfortable. There are 5 unique bathtubs in open air space: a tub inside the cave, a wooden tab, a tub surrounded by rocks, a tub in a hexagonal hut and so on. I like the tub in the hut!
Tip: The hot spring water is deep brown, which contains ancient maritime component.
English Information on Cool Japan Guide website:
HP (only in Japanese, but it'll be fun to look at the photos):
“Niwa no Yu” (Toshimaen Garden Spa 庭の湯)
Location: Nerima Ward, from Ikebukuro 20 min by Seibu Line (Toshimaen station) or from Shinjyuku15 min by Ohedo subway Line (Toshimaen station), just a 1 – 2 min walk from both stations
Price: 2,250 yen (including rental towels and a pair of pajamas)
Feature: It’s surrounded by greenery, so when I was sitting in the outdoor bathtub, I felt as if I was in distant Onsen. There are three different types of sauna: dry, steam and mist. Nice! Not only the bathing area, there are a pool and outdoor Jacuzzis (bathing suit required).
Tip: Various massages and treatments are available.
English Information on CNN website:
HP (some English captions):
For general bath manner information, David Kawabata’ Site is helpful.
I’ll present another day spas some other time.
Do you want to take a hot bath?
Most Japanese love soaking a bathtub, and I sure do love that. Though I have a bathtub at home, I prefer a spacious bathroom and often go to a public bathhouse, “sento” (Dr. Wikipedia details it). My favorite sento nearby has a sauna (extra cost), and I always spend about 2 hours taking the sauna and sitting in a nice hot water every Sunday evening.
In most sentos some older persons who frequents have been a sort of autocratic Empresses :D. Those regulars gave me sento etiquette training in my elementary school days. They are rulebooks. Lately I’ve noticed that Empresses are having a hard time with newcomers of their generation. The newcomers are not familiar with sento etiquette. They come to bathhouses because they get free tickets, which Local Governments give them as part of health promotion activities for the elders. Unfortunately, sometimes conflicts occur between them =).
The problem is the water temperature. In a sento in downtown Tokyo bath temperature is very high - between 43 and 45 degrees C (109~113 degrees F), and regulars love a very hot bath. Besides common rules for a communal bath (e.g. wash one’s body with soap and then rinses oneself thoroughly before dipping into a bathtub), there are local rules differ from region to region and sento to sento. One of the local rules is about how to take this very hot bath. If there are two separate tubs, you can add water only one of them (let’s ask a grandma). However, you must never try to adjust an entire tub to your suitable temperature. The right way is that under a running faucet you dip into under the faucet where the temperature of water drops. Then, when you soak up to your shoulders, turn the faucet off as quick as a flash. If bathtubs seem separate, they are continuous at the bottom. Don’t forget Empresses desire a very hot bath, and adding water effects on the other tub.
Some newcomers who don’t know or just ignore this rule add too much water into a bathtub. When Empresses give them a mild verbal reprimand, it sometimes creates an explosive situation. They don’t have a quarrel but start whinging. At an unfortunate time I’m told complaints from both sides. Empresses point out the newcomers’ rudeness, and the others say the regulars don’t know too hot water is dangerous to health.
I don't really care either temperature….
Come on, grandmas! I just want to relax and enjoy my bath time.
It's a toss-up!