Saturday, November 15, 2008

Otomezuka Onsen - Male and Female Alternating Bath Areas

Updated: January 14, 2016

In the eight years since I have posted, the base fare has increased to ¥420 and with the sauna charge it is ¥700. One of the unusual aspects of this mineral hot spring bathhouse is the men's and women's sides change every other day. One half has mostly tile throughout while the other side has a wood-rimmed indoor bath, and a stone-rimmed outdoor hot and cold bath.

Years ago, while I was neck-deep in the cold stone-rimmed outdoor bath, while all of the other men were in the hot bath, a Japanese man went to sit in the cold bath but only got as far as his ankle before he jerked out his foot. I suppose he was thinking that since I was a foreigner sitting up to my neck, it was a hot bath. I also recall here, a father with two young children were getting in the outdoor bath. The father could tolerate the heat but the 3 or 4 year old children couldn't. Most homes use showers these days so young people may not become accustomed to the heat, so they may never adapt to this prime aspect of Japanese culture.

Last week, I tried the bath again after several years absence. The outside tiled hot bath felt a comfortable, slimy green with loads of gas bubbles. As we sit, the bubbles accumulate around the hairs on the submerged parts of the body. I believe the cold bath is artisan well water off of Mt. Rokko and is around 19° C, but this is an exceptionally warm winter. The posted temperature of the hot mineral water is 41.1° C. Both the indoor and outdoor hot mineral baths have a low enough hot temperature for lingering, which a handful of local, older men did outside. I prefer a bath closer to 41.5° C or so. The hot, dry sauna on the tiled half of the bathhouse is entered with a wooden latch key and is hot enough but seating for only 3 or 4 men.

This bathhouse has three floors: ground floor with the changing room, second floor with washing stations and bubble Jacuzzi baths, and the third floor with more washing stations, the sauna, one large, indoor mineral bath, and the hot and cold outdoor baths. As always, it is wise to take short, tentative steps when walking in the bathing areas to avoid a slip or a fall. A lot of Japanese produce a liberal amount of soap or shampoo suds around their wash station and may not wash the suds away. Wet floor tiles, on their own, are often slippery.

The ground floor has a seating area with tables and chairs for beverages, including draft beer, and light food, along with beverages from an automatic vending machine. Like some other bathhouses, but not all, people can leave valuables in a small locker after inserting 100 yen which is returned after you open the locker on your departure. A timed, payable massage chair is available. Pink, Himalayan rock salt was available for sale which, frankly, was a surprise for me, at around 540 yen for a small bag.

Great feeling mineral water with good aeration but I prefer baths a bit hotter.

六甲おとめ塚温泉 [web]

兵庫県神戸市灘区徳井町3-4-14 [map]
6:00〜1:00 (年中無休)

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