Bathe in a Jar
For over 1,800 years, Yunomine Onsen has offered travelers respite as Japan’s oldest hot spring. Situated along the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail, this hot spring town provided pilgrims who had been travelling for weeks a place to cleanse before entering the sacred grounds of the Grand Shrine of Kumano Hongu, their final destination. Today’s travelers can still enjoy the hot spring town atmosphere that pilgrims experienced centuries ago. Entering the quaint village of Yunomine, you’ll be greeted by the distinct smell of sulfur, whose source is the river running through the heart of the village, brimming with hot spring water.
Adjacent to the river is the Tsuboyu, or “Jar Bath.” This tiny bath built into the river rock has natural hot spring water that’s said to change colours seven times a day. To take a dip, you’ll need to buy tickets at the nearby booth, which will hand you a number. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to wait too long, and can enjoy a walk along the river in the meantime. When it’s your turn, hang your number and enter the little hut that houses the Jar Bath. The hut will be yours for 20 minutes. Bathing in the Jar Bath is an experience like no other. You’ll hear the roar of the river as you soak in a rock bath that really makes you feel like you’re sitting in a jar. The cloudy blue hot spring water feels silky on the skin and you’ll wish for a button to extend the 20 minutes into 40.
August 15, 2016