Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shinohara Onsen - A Hidden Gem

Shinohara Onsen looks like a worn-out sento but since 2001 it has actually been a full-fledged onsen with two mineral pools with the mineral natrium (Na). It still offers the lower pricof a sento but adds a free sauna and two natural mineral pools. The full charge is only ¥380, with patrons aged 70 or more allowed in for half price when they arrive before 4 p.m. As far as I know, the on-site parking fee is not charged to its bathers. Some months ago, TT and I agreed that this was a good onsen but since starting this blog, and looking at onsen with a more critical eye, I might consider boosting it up to fit between a 'good' and 'very good' one. What do you think TT?

The main indoor bathing area consists of a deep soaking pool (41°C), a shallow pool, the electric bath, the natural mineral pool (31°C), and the shower-like stall. By being deep means not holding one's head above water when sitting on the bottom of the pool. The shallow pool might be where young children would feel most comfortable. The electric bath is wide, maybe 130 cm., so the bather adjusts the amount of 'tingle' depending on how near he approaches the electric pad outlet. What is unusual about the shower-stall is not the high pressure waterfall but rather the side, jet sprays that encircle the standing bather.

The indoor mineral pool (31°C) sports mineral water at the same temperature as it comes out of the mother earth from about 650 meters below. Going through a glass door, three more courses open up. This outdoor, heated mineral pool (39°C) is a rotenburo (outdoor pool) since the roof is opened to the sky and allows in the prevailing, ambient temperature. The second course is the natural artisan well water, two-person pool at 22°C. This temperature doesn't shrink up certain male body parts in July as it does in the winter months. The 90C wood-lined, four-person, dry sauna, with TV, does what it should do. This temperature offers a nice contrast to the cold bath, just a couple of meters away.

When first entering the lobby, a younger man at the desk said that Shinohara Onsen was 40 years old but after the bath an older woman there said it was only 25 years old. She agreed with me that the drilling was expensive but she didn't volunteer to say how much it actually was while I patiently waited and nodded my head. Outside, viewed from the street, is a list of the mineral contents found in its water. The lobby holds the framed, official version certified by a Kyoto organization. She was pleased to show off her pet rabbit, a second- or third-generation from their former pet rabbits.

Lobbies at city onsen often have various beverages, or maybe even food, available which probably helps bring in patrons and adds something to the bottom line. KN relaxes in the lobby after our bath while I nose around and ask questions. Outside we see the lockers where our street shoes are stored while we bathe. These are often locked with a square, wooden key.

This Wednesdays' afternoon visit at about 3:30 only had a few patrons but weekends and evenings would probably be much busier. Also, some elderly gents seemed to take advantage of the senior discount. Walkers need about a 10-minute walk west from Hankyu Rokko, on the south side of the tracks. Turn left at the first road crossing with a barrier across Hankyu Railroad. The convenience store on the left is another sign where to turn left. A 100-meter or so walk brings you to Shinohara Onsen. In the winter, an outdoor seating area lets people heat up their feet in heated mineral water. Other photos and information are given at their website: or at their phone (078-881-8080).

泉質:ナトリウムー塩化物・炭酸水素塩温泉(低張性・中性・低温泉) 源泉の温度31.7℃
適応症:神経痛、筋肉痛、関節痛、五十肩、運動麻痺、関節のこわばり、うちみ、くじき、慢性消化器症、痔症、冷え症、病後回復期、疲労回復、健康増進、きりきず、 やけど、慢性皮膚病、虚弱児童、慢性婦人病

078-881-8080 第2、4火曜日休み
営業時間: 平日:11:00~0:00、日曜:7:00~0:00

入浴料380円 (サウナ利用含む)

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