Tawarayama Onsen has a 1000 year history, dating all the way back to the Edo period. It is located in Nagato, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It is a bit off the beaten track, which makes it much less well-known to visitors. Tawarayama Onsen is great place to visit if you want to get away from other tourists and big cities.
Beautiful mountains surround Tawarayama Onsen. The small town carries a ‘Showa’ atmosphere of peace and harmony. In Tawarayama Onsen has been known as the ‘Hot Spring of Arthritis’ for a very long time. In this town you can find a lot of open-air baths, where the water contains many minerals that are helpful to those who suffer from joint or muscle pain.
The Hot Spring of Arthritis
The hot springs you can find in Tawarayama Onsen town have alkaline water, which means that the water is slightly basic, containing simple minerals like calcium and magnesium. You cannot get this water from a regular tap, for it comes from within the Earth. This means that even the drinking water in Tawarayama Onsen contains these minerals and it tastes so fresh and clean after a hot bath.
The Japanese people believe that this water can help with rheumatism, arthritis, stiff joints, bruises, sprains, muscle pain and fatigue. That is why a lot of people stay at Tawarayama Onsen for a longer period of time, such as a week or two.
I am 26 years old and have been doing martial arts for over 9 years. It has resulted in a lot of sports-related injuries. In winter, I suffer from painful joints, and I have a knee that bothers me if I overexert myself.
When I arrived at Tawarayama Onsen, I had been traveling for a few days during the winter season and my joints were especially painful. I only stayed at Tawarayama Onsen for one night, but I had the chance to visit two different baths. I woke up the next morning, and for the first time in over a week my body felt perfectly fine. Not only that, but my skin looked clear and spotless.
Tawarayama Onsen is a great place to stay in order to recover from muscles or joint pain, or other various injuries. It is not only perfect for elderly people, but can be helpful for young people who practice sports seriously or have perhaps been in an accident.
Staying at Kyoya Ryokan
Kyoya Ryokan is a small Japanese-styled inn located in the centre of Tawarayama Onsen town. It is an old wooden building with guestrooms that have tatami floors and rice-paper sliding doors. Very traditional.
I have always had a fascination for old Japanese houses, so I really enjoyed staying at this Ryokan. I was especially happy when I found a kotatsu in my room! A kotatsu is a low Japanese-style table with a built in heater. I think it is the best way to stay warm in winter.
An old couple owns the Kyoya Ryokan and they were so kind and helpful throughout my stay. They served me a huge, hot dinner in my room. The dinner was a wonderful collection of sushi, as well as a hot pot with mushrooms and meat and vegetables.
Kyoya Ryokan provides you with a ‘yukata’ and a ‘hanten’, Japanese-style robe and short jacket. I could also borrow ‘geta’, Japanese wooden sandals that are worn barefoot with the yukata. These clothes are traditionally worn when going to and from the hot springs. The yukata was originally meant to be a kind of bathing wear used for occasions such as this.
Onsen-hopping in Tawarayama Onsen
The best activity in Tawarayama Onsen is onsen-hopping—which just means visiting several different hot springs. It is very relaxing and refreshing to feel the cool air against your skin as you leave one hot spring and slowly walk along the narrow streets to the next.
Unfortunately I could only spend one night in Tawarayama Onsen, though I would have really liked to stay longer. I had the opportunity to visit two wonderful baths.
Machi no Yu – A public bath
Machi no Yu is a ‘sento’, which means a public bath. This public bath has mineral water containing the same ingredients as the onsen water. This is unusual since most public baths use regular water.
The Machi no Yu public bath has two big baths indoor, it is family-friendly, clean and well looked after.
Machi no Yu cost and opening hours
Entrance fee: 420 yen for adults
Opening hours: 06:00-22:00
Hakuen no Yu – An open-air bath
Hakuen no Yu is one of my all-time favourite hot springs in Japan. The outdoor bath is located on the second floor, which makes it feel like you are on the roof. The open-air bath feels private and the atmosphere is relaxing and peaceful.
The best part of this hot spring was the outdoor bath. There was a section of the open-air bath where you could completely lie down in shallow water with a plastic tree-log as a support for you head.
It was a wonderful feeling to lie high up in the air staring up at the starry night. I wish I got the chance to visit Tawarayama Onsen again.
Hakuen no Yu cost and opening hours
Entrance fee: 730 yen for adults
Opening hours: 07:00-21:00
How to get to Tawarayama Onsen:
Tawarayama Onsen is located in the mountains in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture. From Nagato city you can take the train to Nagatoyumoto, and from there it takes approximately 20 minutes by bus to Tawarayama Onsen.
From Shin-Shimonoseki you can take the train to Ozuki, and from there it takes approximately 20 minutes by bus to Tawarayama Onsen.
I'm an adventurer who moved to Japan and bought a house in the country side after 6 months of traveling in Asia. I have a B.A in Tourism and I just launched my own webpage: www.paintmeparadise.com. I love doing things considered 'impossible' and proving people wrong. I work hard to make my dreams come true, one day I want to make a living off of writing and photography because it makes me happy.
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