Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nada Onsen - A Natural

Nada Onsen is a natural onsen with three mineral pools, a sauna, an outdoor cold pool, a deafening, indoor waterfall, and the ubiquitous hot jacuzzi (jet bath) and electric bath combination. Surprisingly, the actual rock cores drilled out from beneath this onsen are on display in the lobby. Prime time evenings, especially on weekends, should be avoided otherwise there may be a waiting line for the 30.5 C mineral pool.

The front-desk cashier said that Nada Onsen was established during the Taisho era but the handout stated it was actually in 1938. It was later reconstructed in 2003, 8 years after the Great Hanshin Earthquake (1995). The main bathing area is mainly the standard bathroom tile but some attractive granite sets off a few places. Outside has mostly natural stone, a black or red hues. Natural wood in the dry sauna offers the ambiance of a Scandinavian sauna. Men enter on the ground-floor level while women enter a smaller onsen area on the second floor.

This mineral water appears green, carbonated, and after you soak for a while the skin feels slippery when you rub it. The most popular of these three mineral pools appears to be the indoor 30.5 C pool which is a temperature that feels neutral, neither hot nor cold. The other indoor mineral pool (43 C) doesn't have as long a waiting time for a seating space to open up but it has more men waiting for it than for the outdoor (rotenboro) mineral pool (42 C). The the longer-than-expected waiting times may be accounted for by it being a Saturday afternoon.

The outside cold bath (21 C)comes from artisan well water, not city tap water which is around 27 C in July. This is further evident since it is odorless whereas summer city tap water in this area normally smells of chlorine. Actually, with ambient temperatures around 30 C in July and the cold pool at 21 C, the temperatures do not contrast so much. Winter ambient and artisan well water temperatures should be nearer to 12 C so the onsen pools offers a more invigorating experience during the winter months.

The bath charge (Y380) or bath and sauna charge (Y530) includes either one or two drying-off towels along with liquid soap and shampoo in the bathing area. It looks like patrons bring along their own scrub towel or maybe they rent one (Y500 with bath charge). Middle-school students enter for Y250, elementary-age for Y130 and those younger for Y60.

Sauna goers have an extra colored, elastic band to be worn around an ankle or wrist which entitles them to enter the sauna. This dry sauna is at 90 C so it's an easy sitting and sweating 6-8 person cubicle, with lower and upper seating. The TV had a Japan championship golf match on at the time I was there.

One bather in his 30s displayed a full-back tattoo. The only other local onsen where such large, colorful tattoos are permitted is at its 'sister' onsen (078-854-6545) 200-meters to the SE of JR Rokkomichi. Both of these onsen include a forced waterfall that drum onto one's shoulders and back. Also, in line with other modern onsen, patrons may leave their valuables in a safe deposit box in the lobby rather than leaving them with their clothes in the locked-boxes in the changing room.

The easiest and most direct way to find Nada Onsen (078-861-4535) is by exiting Hankyu Ojikoen station on the south side and then walking completely through Suidosuji shotengai arcade, followed by an uncovered walk of about 100 meters. It's open daily from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. with the first Thursday of each month as the only day-off holiday.




View Kansai Onsen Review in a larger map

No comments: