Saturday, June 21, 2008

Disappearing Onsen

My personal onsen visiting experience generally started just after the Great Hanshin Earthquake (January, 1995) when our apartment had its water supply and/or gas (for heating water) was off for about two months.

Since the big earthquake, I recall three onsen that have disappeared since then, not including the one I first stopped at last night's (June 21, 2008), Takahara Onsen. One reason, of course, is that more houses and apartments have their own bathing facility, usually both a bath and a shower. Also, land taxes and land values have jumped up over the years so making it as a business is more difficult while selling out to real estate developers is a no brainer.

With fewer clients and only charging 380 yen an adult, keeping a local, traditional onsen in business shows a dedication to preserve the family business rather than a road to riches or even a comfortable livelihood, I am sure. People in their 70s normally man the counters when we enter, so these local onsen may further fade away as time passes.

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