Onsen Discovery editorial here, how are you?
It's been a while I since the last update...
We're in the middle of winter now, and it's a perfect season for Onsen!
The destination we’re about to introduce today is very unique.
For majority of people, going to Onsen is a special experience which we occasionally enjoy. In fact, many of them plan to go to Onsen for their vacation as getting there itself is time-consuming (natural hotsprings are usually located far from cities), plus they'd like to stay the night at the destination after enjoying Onsen. My point here, is Onsen isn't a casual, everyday thing for most people in Japan.
But here in Kagoshima, southern tip of Kyushu, Onsen is pretty much a part of people's everyday life.
This traditional Sento (public bath)* style Onsen, doesn't look or feel anything like the ones we've introduced so far!
*Sento: means public bath, usually heats regular water to fill their bathtub.
Onsen: also means public bath, uses hot water or heated water taken from natural hot springs.
Let's check it out.
Local-style Onsen in the middle of residential area in Kagoshima City
You'll often see these shoe lockers at the entrance.
Pick any available locker and place your shoes inside...
Don't forget to take this number tag with you (this works like a locker key for your shoes).
Cashier called “Bandai”
At this kind of Onsen(or Sento), you need to pay upfront.
Price: 390 yen (age 12+) *
*Price may vary depending on each facility and the age of the guest, so please ask at the cashier.
Although BYO is the standard here, you can also purchase soaps, shampoo, towels here. Say hi to the staff at the counter he or she may be able to help you especially if you’re a first-timer :)
Now you’ve passed the first check point, on to the next!
Entrance to the changing room
Usually there’s a hanging curtain like this called “Noren”. This is the entrance for your changing room so make sure you pay attention to the sign shown at this area:
「男」 means Men, 「女」 means Women !
In the changing area, you can take off all your clothes, yes, I meant all of them!
Forget the swimsuits here, just take a small towel with you.
There are some basic etiquettes and rules to be aware of, so here they are.
Finally, you’re going into the bathing area!
But wait! Don’t hurry into the bath, you need to wash yourself first in the washing area (usually with low shower attached to be used while you’re sitting). Then, enjoy your bath as long as you want!
Feel relaxed and refreshed? Once you’re dressed, come out to the resting area to cool yourself.
Here, you may see locals gather making themselves at home and socializing.
Not quite sure what to do with yourself among locals?
Coffee-flavored milk (Ko-hee Gyu-nyu) on third shelf from the bottom
Well...how about a bottle of cold, coffee-flavored milk? - don’t ask why it’s milk, it is said to be an inseparable combination like baseball and hotdogs in America – So, as strange as it may sound, just try and see if you like it!
So how did you like our local style virtual Onsen tour?
There are many casual, reasonable Onsen like this in Kagoshima.
You'll experience a very different world from the Onsen resorts, for sure!