Onsen Spa Experience, part 2

I previously wrote about trying out the onsen at I’m Hotel in Makati. I had planned on making part 2 about one of the onsen hotels in Laguna, but since the opportunity came up to try an authentic one in Japan, that blog will have to be bumped to part 3.

Japan is actually where onsens originated. The Japanese have been using hot springs to relax and bathe in since the second half of the first century. While they were once a luxury reserved for those belonging to noble families and the warrior class, today, they’re open to anyone who would like to experience them.

After hitting two cities in one day (Himeji and Kobe), we headed back to Osaka to Hinata No Yu. It can be reached via the Midosuji line.

We were welcomed at the front desk and directed to a machine. Like many attractions and restaurants in Japan, you can get what you need by pressing a few buttons. An employee helped us get our ticket since the machine didn’t have English translations of their services. Use of the onsen costs ¥800 on weekdays and ¥900 on weekends and holidays. Rental of a bath towel and face towel costs ¥250.

After we got our tickets, we put our shoes in a locker. The locker requires a ¥100 coin which will be returned to you when you get your shoes back. The lockers in the changing areas work the same way.

In case this is your first time reading about onsens, you should know that clothes of any kind are not allowed in the pools. No underwear, no bathing suits – nothing. However, there’s no need to feel self-conscious. People will glance up when you walk in or pass them, but it’s considered highly rude to stare at someone in an onsen (or anywhere, really). You probably won’t catch anyone taking long, lingering looks at you. Be sure you don’t do it to them, either.

Hinata No Yu has both indoor and outdoor facilities. I took some time to warm up inside before heading outside. Our trip fell on the tail-end of winter, so for the week that we were there, the temperature only went over 10 degrees celsius once. After a while in the indoor pools, I moved outdoors. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cold hardly had any effect on me, considered that I was shivering fully clothed just an hour before.

The facilities include several pools, a sauna, and showers. Shampoo, conditioner, and soap are available at each shower stall, free to use. There are two gender-segregated areas, but exceptions can be made for children. While I was there, one woman brought her young son with her. After you’re done soaking, you can use blow dryers in the changing room. You can also take some cotton swabs and a sterilized hairbrush. For a little extra, you can get a drink from the vending machine or have a machine massage your feet.

I hung out in the lounge for a bit before we left. There are massage chairs, a television, and a counter where you can order snacks and drinks.

photo by Tomitaro on TripAdvisor

There are a few things to remember before you visit an onsen. One is that taking pictures and videos is not allowed. This is why most of the pictures I’ve featured here came from other sources. Another is that most onsens will not allow you to use their facilities if you have a tattoo. As of 2015, more than half of ryokans (Japanese inns) surveyed said that they do not allow guests with tattoos to use the onsen, while a select few would allow it if the tattoos were covered. Hinata No Yu does not allow tattooed guests to use their onsen. If you have tattoos and plan to try another onsen, be sure to ask the staff it’s alright first.

Hinata No Yu is located in 1 Chome-6-15 Mikunihonmachi, Yodogawa Ward, Osaka, Japan. From Sunday to Friday, they open at 6:00 AM and close at midnight. On Saturdays, they are open from 8:00 AM until midnight. Learn more about them on their website. You can also check them out on Facebook.

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