DAY USE ONSEN & ASHIYU
Asagama Onsen Park: Furusato no Yu Bath House
In addition to the thirteen public onsen, Nozawa Onsen has an unofficial (since an admission fee applies) “fourteenth” Soto Yu bath house: the Furusato no Yu. Located on the slope up to Ogama, this traditional, wooden building blends in perfectly with the little town’s atmosphere and history. It’s considered to be a gensen kakenagashi bath, whose natural hot spring water flows continuously from its original source. Compared to the other Soto Yu, this modern hot spring facility (it was built in 2011) is more spacious, including one outdoor bath and two indoor baths with different temperatures—an atsuyu (between 44 and 45 degrees Celsius) and a nuruyu (between 42 and 43 degrees Celsius)—for each gender. Basic amenities such as soap, shampoo and shower booths, are available as well.
Sparena Nozawa Onsen
Boasting an outdoor facility with a gensen kakenagashi—a hot spring whose water flows endlessly from its original source—the spa complex of Sparena Nozawa Onsen is a place to unwind with your friends, family or partner in the town’s mineral-rich, hot spring water. The spa is equipped with indoor and outdoor pools, especially recommended for onsen first-timers, since the water temperatures are lower compared to Nozawa Onsen’s communal bath houses.
During peak season, from December to March, many visitors use Sparena as a base camp for a one-day visit to Nozawa Onsen. The spa opens at 6.30 am, so you can enjoy breakfast before starting your snowy adventure in the mountains. Stash your belongings in the lockers and head out to the ski resort, or unwind in the relaxation room equipped with reclining chairs, until the bathing area opens around 1 pm (you can rent swimwear and towels from the spa). Sparena’s restaurant serves local delicacies, some of them prepared with the area’s popular Nozawana leaf vegetable. And if you plan to drop by during summer, expect an outdoor pool adorned with a waterfall and fountain, especially popular with children, while the terrace turns into a fancy beer garden.
An ashiyu is a facility where people can easily enjoy hot spring water simply by rolling up the bottoms of their trousers and just soaking their feet without taking off their clothes.
These is an ashiyu called “Akuto-yu” just in front of the O-yu bathhouse.
n Japan, it is often said that, at communal onsen bathhouses as well as at bathrooms at home, “half immersion bathing”—soaking only the lower half of the body—is good for the health. This is because soaking one’s whole body in hot water applies water pressure to the body, which may cause too much burden on the heart and the lungs.
You may have noticed that soaking in lukewarm water in a relaxed manner warms you from the core of your body, whereas soaking in hot water for just a short period of time doesn’t provide this sort of effect. In the case of ashiyu, you can enjoy the hot spring water for longer in a more relaxed position. And it’s quite easy to take ashiyu because all you have to do is take off your shoes and roll up your trousers.
And you may know that full immersion bathing consumes quite a lot of energy. So when you are on your way home from a trip, Ashiyu may be the ideal way of bathing. It moderately removes your fatigue, refreshing you before you go home.