04-25-2018, 08:25 PM
#1
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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Onsen is the Japanese term for a natural hot spring, of which Japan has thousands.  

Linguistically, in Japanese, the plural of onsen is onsen.

Empirically, an onsen experience is one of the two most sybaritic pleasures to which humankind has been vouchsafed.  (If you do not know what the other one is, you have not been paying attention.)

Yr obdnt srvnt first was introduced to onsen in the mid-1960’s when he lived in Sapporo, Hokkaido.  The local onsen, Jozankei or, orthographically more correctly, Zhozankei, was a delightfully remote location then, a picturesque village at a higher elevation than Sapporo, a city that is snowbound a sufficient portion of the year that it hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics.  Although there were primitive roads into Zhozankei, effectively the only access to the village and its ryokan, Japanese inns, was by boarding a very local train line from Sapporo Station.  These days, most Japanese own automobiles or SUVs, and the roads have been “improved,” and financial wizards have transformed the village into a money-grubbing commercial black hole; too bad.

Still, there remain some mostly unspoiled rural onsen available in Japan, and some of them are still accessible to those of us who are not in the top ten percent of the top one percent of wealth.  As we are living out the lyrics of September Song, my bride and I are undertaking an ongoing effort to experience these precious days in as many of those remnants as we are able to do with the modest resources available to us.  We know it is a selfish pursuit, but we regard it to be, also, a higher calling in its own right.  

Do others in this randomly selected group (who, being on-line in a shaving forum, are disproportionately probable sybarites) have onsen memories that they fondly (or, for that matter, unfondly) recall, and are you comfortable sharing them in this thread?

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 04-26-2018, 02:15 AM
#2
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OH YES.

I couldn't agree more about what a pleasure it is.
Near where my in-laws live, there is a place that is supported by the prefectural government. It is quite a good-sized facility in a very pleasant woodsy setting. There is also a sauna.
There are others fairly near too, but I haven't visited them.
My son (now nine) has been going since he was a little tyke. He loves shuttling among the different tubs. 

And going to ryokan, the hotels and inns that are built around onsen, is such a treat.
Many of the onsen are beautifully constructed, taking advantage of natural features.
The ryokan also take great pride in their food...and my wife can get sniffy if she thinks the meals aren't up to standard!

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 04-27-2018, 02:24 AM
#3
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(04-26-2018, 02:15 AM)Rory1262 Wrote: OH YES.

I couldn't agree more about what a pleasure it is.

We stayed last week in a brand new (opened April 2018, just a couple weeks ago) hotel in Yokohama (Vista Premio) that has bathrooms, separate from the toilet/commode rooms.  They are designed to allow one to take an onsen-style bath — functionally, not aesthetically — in the hotel room.  There is a high threshold between the sleeping quarters and the bathroom, and the bathroom door seals with a watertight gasket when closed.  Inside the bathroom, the floor has is own drain, separate from the tub, allowing one to sit on a low stool outside the tub, and use supplied bucket scoop to dip water out of the tub for the pre-soak cleansing; the telephone-type shower fixture also has its rest outside the tub.  The tub itself has a seat molded into one end.  Here are a couple of photos:  

[Image: 7nmAdEU.jpg]

[Image: Pf7atmO.jpg]

I would show some photos inside the baths in the “real” onsen in Shimoda and Imaihama (both on the Izu Peninsula) where we stayed earlier last week, but as you may imagine, the establishments are a bit tetchy about people taking photographs in there.  Biggrin  

(04-26-2018, 02:15 AM)Rory1262 Wrote: And going to ryokan, the hotels and inns that are built around onsen, is such a treat.
Many of the onsen are beautifully constructed, taking advantage of natural features.
The ryokan also take great pride in their food...and my wife can get sniffy if she thinks the meals aren't up to standard!

To illustrate your first point, here is the view out the window of our room in the onsen we stayed at in Shimoda:
[Image: uZwbbyk.jpg]

And here is a wing of an onsen hotel — architecture and landscaping by a Philadelphia firm — located in a National Park northwest of Nikko where we stayed last year:

[Image: jj4SQNJ.jpg]
See:  https://www.andropogon.com/work/internat...l-and-spa/

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 05-02-2018, 12:33 AM
#4
  • Crag
  • Senior Member
  • Menifee, Ca 92586
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Beautifully written!

I was in Yokohama for a Godan ceremony for my Brother and after the ritual fire cleansing we had an onsen bath and it was wonderfully relaxing. My brother became the highest master of his order of Ninjitsu, and at 61 is the oldest to have been bestowed this honor.

My brother had some rituals for his dojo where he had ritual scarring and the mineral bath completely relived his pain, which he had none the rest of the trip.

Of the 4 days we spent in the city, the onsen bath and cleansing rituals were the highlight.

We also ate at a Michillin Star rated sushi bar under a master sushi chef and were treated by the Dojo. It was a beautifully Zen experience overall!

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

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 05-02-2018, 01:57 AM
#5
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(05-02-2018, 12:33 AM)Crag Wrote: Beautifully written!

I was in Yokohama for a Godan ceremony for my Brother and after the ritual fire cleansing we had an onsen bath and it was wonderfully relaxing.

Of the 4 days we spent in the city, the onsen bath and cleansing rituals were the highlight.

We also ate at a Michillin Star rated sushi bar under a master sushi chef and were treated by the Dojo. It was a beautifully Zen experience overall!

If you are into the spiritual aspect of Japanese food, there is a new (December 2017) movie out that is a feast for the eyes; we saw it on the airplane on the way over the Pacific in April.  The title of the movie is written in katakana (a phonetic syllabary):  ラスト レシピ (phoneticaly RASTO RESHIPI) and it is about a “Last Recipe” for a fictional grand feast of 112 courses to honor the Japanese Emperor on a visit to Japanese occupied Manchuria (Manchuko) in 1933 — and much more.  It is also a four-handkerchief movie.   See if you can get ahold of a copy.

As to the healing powers of hot spring waters, we were booked to visit Sorrento, Italy, a city with a lot of near-vertical pedestrian paths, in October 2016, but my knees, which had been going downhill (meniscus wore our completely) for years, took a sudden turn for the worse late in the summer of that year; so we canceled our Sorrento reservations and in their place booked a stay at a ryokan in the tiny village of Atsumi Onsen, south of Tsuruoka, Yamagata.  The days and nights in Atsumi Onsen were highlighted by repeated visits to the bath at Tachibabaya, and it was *wonderful* and made my knees feel ever so much better.  Even so, I had the right knee replaced with a chromium-cobalt artificial one five months later; see Chazt's thread in this subforum titled Knee Surgery.  If we had an onsen like that close to home, I might not have needed the knee surgery.  

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 05-02-2018, 04:27 AM
#6
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Thanks for the great posts. I am in Japan now and will be visiting friend near Nasushiobara who plan to take us to Nikko... I think.  Both hotels I've been in so far had great bath facilities.  The hotel in Kyoto has the same Toto branded sealed shower unit, but the tub has no seat, though it is deep enough for a great soak after a long day of walking around.  Our hotel in Osaka had an older style, larger bathing room that was quite nice including a jacuzzi tub.

I'm looking forward to our trip north and hopefully to a couple of onsen.   

Glad to hear that your knee has been taken care of, sorry that the solution had to be surgical. I attribute many rounds of healing, and peace of mind,  to my almost daily use of an outdoor hot tub for the last 30 years.

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 05-02-2018, 09:07 AM
#7
  • Crag
  • Senior Member
  • Menifee, Ca 92586
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(05-02-2018, 01:57 AM)Mel S Meles Wrote:
(05-02-2018, 12:33 AM)Crag Wrote: Beautifully written!

I was in Yokohama for a Godan ceremony for my Brother and after the ritual fire cleansing we had an onsen bath and it was wonderfully relaxing.

Of the 4 days we spent in the city, the onsen bath and cleansing rituals were the highlight.

We also ate at a Michillin Star rated sushi bar under a master sushi chef and were treated by the Dojo. It was a beautifully Zen experience overall!

If you are into the spiritual aspect of Japanese food, there is a new (December 2017) movie out that is a feast for the eyes; we saw it on the airplane on the way over the Pacific in April.  The title of the movie is written in katakana (a phonetic syllabary):  ラスト レシピ (phoneticaly RASTO RESHIPI) and it is about a “Last Recipe” for a fictional grand feast of 112 courses to honor the Japanese Emperor on a visit to Japanese occupied Manchuria (Manchuko) in 1933 — and much more.  It is also a four-handkerchief movie.   See if you can get ahold of a copy.

Onsen, south of Tsuruoka, Yamagata.  The days and nights in Atsumi Onsen were highlighted by repeated visits to the bath at Tachibabaya, and it was *wonderful* and made my knees feel ever so much better. 
Yes, I have several Japanese friends who have educated me to the Zen aspect of traditional foods and I have been quite blessed to sample some exquisite dishes as a result!  I'll tell you that the honor aspect appeals greatly to me, and have met many special and wonderful people as a result.  I have copied the katakana and will certainly ask them about it!

I agree about the curative qualities of the naturals springs!  I only wish I could re-create that here in my hometown.  I referee Football (soccer) and my knees are starting to get old.  If we could somehow bottle those minerals we could help thousands, perhaps millions of people who suffer from degenerative bone and cartilage issues!  I upgraded my bathroom to include a deep bath for soaking and I add Epsom salts to the bath for a mineral-esque bath which does help, but nothing compares to Natural Springs.

Cheers and thank you for sharing!

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 05-03-2018, 06:36 AM
#8
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(05-02-2018, 04:27 AM)number six Wrote: Thanks for the great posts. I am in Japan now and will be visiting friend near Nasushiobara who plan to take us to Nikko... I think.  

Nasushiobara is, of course, famous for its onsen as well as its natural beauty; うらやましい.   Wink  https://selected-ryokan.com/ryokan/shofu...burbs.html

The Toshogu Shrine at Nikko has changed drastically in the 50+ years since I first visited it.  Access from Tokyo (Asakusa) has become much quicker with the luxurious Tobu trains, and the Japanese populace have become much wealthier, with more discretionary income.  What used to be a gaudy but serene place now is a gaudy and very, very crowded place:

[Image: 9plfpKS.jpg]
. . .  but it is still an exciting place to visit.

The Oedo Onsen Monogatari Nikko Kirifuri where we stayed a few nights last year is a unique (and surprisingly not over-priced) onsen hotel, away from the madding crowd, that features large rotemburo on the roof; we would happily stay there again.

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