Soon it will be getting hotter, and time for some hardcore relaxing. I need to be outside to really relax. Back in Tucson I had a great porch where I would sit, listen to shortwave radio and have a few beers. Well I'm not in Tucson anymore and shortwave reception in Japan isn't that good anyhow--at least for English language stations. So what do I do instead? Go to the onsen! Of course! Here are my top four places for a nice 昼風呂 (hiruburo) or afternoon bath during the hotter months in Kansai. So take a day off, head to the onsen and relax the day away.
All links point back to Kansai Onsen Review, my other blog, where you'll find more information on finding these great spots, prices, and other information.
1. Arimafuji Onsen Hanayama no Yu.
A short bus ride past the last major stop in Kansai on the JR Fukuchiyama line that heads out from Osaka to the Japan Sea. You'll feel the wide spaces and rural scenes without going too far. The afternoon breeze that flows through the little valley where this onsen is located feels great and is never too cold. Combine that with the view and the waterfall baths the entire scene nearly puts you to sleep. Oh, and while you're there you can hit a few balls at the golf practice range in the same building.
2. Nada Onsen Suidomichi
A nice lukewarm bath on a warm day will put you straight to sleep. Heat up in one of Nada's other great baths then find a spot in the sardine can which is the gensen bath. Gensen (原泉) is the straight water from the well at the temperature it naturally flows at. At Nada the water flows at a near body temperature and is very carbonated. This means that it ends up feeling like you have no body at all, a kind of sensory depravation for everything below your head. The little bubbles that build up on your skin also enhance this feeling. Pure bliss. Grab a beer from one of the great old vending machines across the street and head to one of the near by parks afterwards to really make it a day out.
3. Ebisu Onsen
Take a nice relaxing train ride down to Akashi. Watch the coast line float by and go under the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge on your way to this great little sento. The lukewarm gensen bath in the little glass roofed patio that makes up the rotenbro will put you asleep. Get there when they open at 3pm on a weekday to really enjoy yourself by yourself. Otherwise, it might be a bit too crowded.
4. Hanayama Onsen
Same as going to Ebisu, but the other direction. Head down the coast to Wakayama and enjoy some of the best water anywhere. It's opaque and brown like watered down clay. When you see the unworldly shapes and forms the brown calcium deposits make on the bath, you'll know that you've found something special. Various temperatures of the 4 baths lets you heat up and cool down all you want to achieve that state of being completely relaxed. The rotenbro looks out to a simple, but beautiful, Japanese garden. A great place to let the cool air flow over you body.
These are some of my favorite onsen. I hope you get a chance to enjoy them as much as I do when I enjoy the slow life in Japan.