Thursday, March 26, 2009

NAGISA no YU - Spacious, Soothing Outdoor Baths

The crown jewel of this onsen are two outdoor mineral baths (rotenburo) which are especially refreshing on a cold night when you stand up and the air around you turns to steam. The larger pool could easily seat 12-15 men, while the raised, deeper pool comfortably seats six. High walls hide the bathing areas from outside peering eyes but from the smaller mineral pool we can stand and look south out through two portals to view the inner harbor of Kobe Port. Cut stones cover the outdoor courtyard walkways but raw, rough rocks ring these two mineral pools.

Also situated in this outdoor area are the six powerful 'jet baths' with finished, black granite. An unusual feature for onsen establishments are the three large soaking barrels, each one large enough to hold a father and a 10-year-old son.

Natural mineral water originating from about 760 meters comes out at 35.7º C but the outdoor mineral baths and jet baths are heated to about 41.1º C. The sole indoor mineral pool is hotter at 42.3º C and prduces a faster sweat but it is still comfortable and soothing. A larger, shallow, indoor clear-water pool is also heated to 41.1º C while a smaller one is at a chilling 18.2ºC. These two pools would be either artesian well water from the nearby Rokko Mountains or city water. The green mineral water has that familiar slimy feel on the skin, like some other onsen drilled between the Rokko Mountains and Osaka Bay, but during this soak I didn't notice bubbles that are sometimes present at others.

The spaciousness of this relatively new onsen, constructed on reclaimed land, is further evident by the size of its two saunas. The dry sauna could easily hold 40 men, while the smaller, three-tier 15-man sauna has steam coming off of a pile of exposed rocks.

The huge changing area has around 200 electronically-locked lockers. About 40 indoor washing stations, close to the two clear-water pools, which suggest that this onsen can or does accommodate a real crowd of bathers. An unused sign near the main entrance on this Wednesday evening probably posts the waiting times for men and women during peak bathing times. I wouldn't be surprised if bus loads of Japanese tourists use this facility on weekends as well as a lot of the locals.

For a quieter and more pleasant bathing experience, Nagisa no Yu would probably best be avoided on weekends and national holidays. The bathing charge is ¥800 plus ¥200 for a small bathing towel. Shampoo and body wash is included. Oddly, a large sign near the entrance prohibits people with large, shoulder tattoos to enter but I did notice one man with an outline of a large one on his left shoulder. Large, colorful tattoos often identify people who have gangster affiliations.

Getting there by train: HAT Nagisa no Yu is in the HAT redeveloped area, behind Kobe Red Cross Hospital. It is located east of Sannomiya, one stop on both train lines. From the east exit of Hankyu Line Kasogano station, walk south through the shopping arcade, under the main highway, and along the overhead walkway for about 15 minutes. Or walk south from Hanshin Line Kasogano station for about 10 minutes.

【営業時間】 10:00〜26:00  (最終受付 25:00)
【休業日】年中無休 ※都合により休館する場合がございます。
【お問い合わせ】 電話:078-231-4126  FAX:078-231-1126

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1 comment:

machina said...

In case anyone still reads this, about the tattoos: I have quite visible tattoos on my cleavage, but the lady at the entrance said nothing about it. I enjoyed the onsen for about 20 mins with no problems at all until an elderly lady "ratted me out" to the staff and I got kicked out. So I guess it depends on who's bathing with you.