03/11: Useful info for students 2: Great hot springs!
One of the most relaxing things you can do in Japan is take a dip in an 温泉 (onsen, hot spring). And luckily, there's a great one just 5 minutes' walk from the school!
天神ゆの華 (Tenjin yu no hana) is a natural hot spring, meaning that water is piped up from 500 meters underground. They have a helpful info board outside with some details about the water:
So, the natural 温度 (ondo, water temperature) is 30.6 degrees Celsius. (It is of course heated for the baths.) Next is the 湧出量 (yuushutsuryou, discharge amount), 毎分７５０リットル (maifun 750 rittoru, 750 liters per minute). Finally the ph (or in Japanese, ペーハー) is 6.6.
Notice the little picture down in the bottom right there. Bonus points if you can guess what it means. That's right, no tattoos!
This onsen costs just 700 yen each time, and offers a huge variety of baths, as well as sauna, steam room, and more. If you don't have your own towel, you can rent or buy one there, for 150 yen. Usually, people bring one small towel (to take into the onsen), and one larger one (to dry yourself off afterwards).
Anyway, the procedure for the onsen is a little complex, and it's easy to make a mistake the first time you go, so we've compiled a little guide to make things easier for you. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take any photos from inside the onsen, so in the absence of us sneaking a hidden camera inside, it's all words from here on in, plus a few photos stolen from their website. It might be a good idea to print this out when you go!
First, when you enter the building, there is a small area just inside the front door, with a small step up to the main floor area. Take off your shoes before going any further! No slippers needed. Then, carry your shoes to the shoebox area, to the right. Find a shoebox with the key still in the lock, and put your shoes inside. Then, press the button under the key while turning the key, to pull it out.
Next, go to the ticket machine by the main counter. Put in your money (700 yen per adult), and press the button at the top-left. Your ticket, along with your change, will be spit out of the bottom. The machine can take up to 10,000 yen notes.
Now, give both the ticket AND your shoebox key to one of the staff at the counter. They will give you a locker key. (The key itself is inside a rubber cover, so you'll need to swivel it out before you use it.) Take the key, and walk around the counter. To your left are two entranceways, with a のれん (noren, short curtain), one blue and one red. The blue one is the men's entrance, the red one for women. One nice feature of this onsen is that they switch the curtains every week or so, so if you come back next week, you would be able to try out the other side.
So, choose the side that fits your gender, and make your way in. When you get to the locker area, find the locker that matches the number on your key. Put all your clothes in the locker, but keep your small towel. Walk through the sliding doors into the onsen itself. There is a small overflowing bowl with a few buckets just inside the door - some people like to rinse themselves off here before they go into the onsen itself.
However, it is a good idea to take a shower before you go into the hot springs, to clean yourself off. Press the lever to the right of the shower down to start the shower.
Once you're clean, you're free to jump in any of the hot springs as you want, but a few things to note:
- be careful of the 電気風呂 (denkiburo, electric bath) unless you want to feel like someone's tickling your internal organs.
- Don't stay in the water for too long, and do give yourself time to cool down between baths. Use the cold pool as necessary.
- Most people carry their small towel in front of their private parts when they walk around, and put it on their head or beside the bath when getting into the water. It's considered a little bad form to dip the towel into the water.
Finally, the most important thing of all: where is it? The address is
〒810-0072 福岡県福岡市中央区長浜 １－４－５５
Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City, Chuuouku, Nagahama 1-4-55
It's a short walk north from the school. The map below has walking directions: