Ooedo Onsen Monogatari

During our long weekend in Tokyo we all ended up being a wee bit travel weary. It rained, alot. I was coming down with a cold. It was quite chilly outside. And we had spent several days pounding the pavement, seeing the sights.

Fortunately, Japan has the perfect answer for soothing the body and soul after a hard day, or days. They like to take a good, long soak. In general, Aaron and I soak in our own, private ofuro (deep bathtub) at the end of each day. But since we were not at home, and we had visitors, we thought it would be fun to take them to an onsen.

This was actually my first trip to an onsen as well. I had been to a public bath, sento, before, but never an onsen. Onsen’s are public baths that are fed by hot springs.

The particular onsen that we went to was on the outskirts of Tokyo, easily accessed by public transportation. Actually, it was more than an onsen, it was an onsen theme park.

Upon entering Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, we got to choose a yukata. Once you enter the facility, everyone wears the yukata instead of street clothes. It is kind of funny seeing everyone wearing the same thing.

Four in Yukata

Once you are in your yukata, you have free access to the features of the theme park. There were restaurants and carnival games and, of course, the baths. Most of the baths at this particular onsen, like most onsens, are unisex. Jill and I, and hundreds of other people, enjoyed the warm water, relaxing and chatting.

This onsen had many different types of baths to choose from, and Jill and I tried many of them out. My two favorites were the outdoor bath and the massage bath. The outdoor bath was steaming hot and partially under cover, but it was so nice to feel the raindrops and the cold breeze from the typhoon while soaking in incredibly warm water.

Indoors, there was another bath which I took to calling the massage bath. It was only about 8 inches deep and it was one of the few tubs where you actually lie down, instead of sitting and soaking. Along the bottom of the tub and the sides were carefully placed jets. While lying in the tub, we received a well-deserved, full-body massage. It felt fantastic!

After enjoying a good long soak, we were all feeling warm, refreshed and clean. We went back into the theme park area for some snacks and a few games.

Jill and Ben tried the ninja throwing stars.

Throwing Stars

They both won marbles.

Then, before leaving, we enjoyed one last bath. This was an outdoor foot bath, and is described on the website as follows:

The smooth round stones embedded in the floor of this bath stimulate the soles of the feet, so a stroll through the water here is a great way to relieve fatigue. Men and women can enjoy this bath together, making it all the more enjoyable.

This bath definitely fell short of its advertising. It was not a relaxing stroll and it was not at all enjoyable. It was more like a torturous walk over a path of pointy, sharp rocks. An area that didn’t have water looked like this, and this is similar to the way the entire bath looked, except we couldn’t see the rocks under the water, and they were placed with far less regularity.

Torture Chamber

Despite the disappointing, and rather painful, foot bath. We enjoyed our time at the onsen. And, I had a great first-time onsen experience.

Of course, on the way out of the women’s dressing room, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the panty vending machine. They really do sell everything in vending machines in Japan!

Panty Vending

Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2007 at 10:05 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Ooedo Onsen Monogatari”

  1. Tina says:

    I love that idea! Unfortunately I would be declined as I have a tattoo. It could be easily covered, but I don’t know if they would allow that. Do you know why they have that restriction?

  2. danielle says:

    Alas, I also have a tattoo. One that is on my lower back, and easily covered by a large-ish bandage. I get the fancy bandages from the pharmacy, the ones that are super-thin and waterproof, and I am good to go. Somehow, it is more acceptable to have a large, gaping wound that requires such a bandage rather than a tattoo. Don’t really understand that one.

    And, yes, most onsens do restrict entry for people with tattoos. Tattoos here are historically associated with the yakuza (japanese mafia). This association is starting to go away, but isn’t gone quite yet. So, onsens would prefer not to let in a member of the yakuza, they don’t want any trouble in a place where people are supposed to be having a quiet soak.

  3. […] always are mentioning onsen around here (in Tokyo and at Oku-Hida) and we have tried our best to explain the concept. But, it is a bit difficult for […]

  4. Claudio says:

    I’ll be in Japan next August, and Oedo Onsen is one of the places I’d like to visit… but I have a tattoo, too (and I’m not a Yakuza. I’m not even Mafia, although I’m from Italy ^_^).
    It’s a small red-and-green rose+heart on my right arm, in plain sight a little below the shoulder… about 5cm x3 cm (2×1 inches). Are they THAT strict about tattos? If so, I’d like to know more about how to cover it with a small bandage ^_^

  5. danielle says:

    It really depends on the onsen. I think at Oedo you’d be fine, although I’d probably cover it anyways. A lot of the smaller onsens are much more strict and will definitely ask you to leave. As a foreigner you already stand out enough, no need to make it even more so. You can get an appropriately sized waterproof bandage at any pharmacy. I’ve found that the 3M Nexcare line works really well!

    Best of luck and enjoy your trip!

  6. Claudio says:

    Back home… I used bandages at all onsen I went to, just to be on the safe side. Both Oedo Onsen in Tokyo, and Yunessun in Hakone, had very clear signs that warned “no admission to people with tattoos”. Other, smaller onsen had no such signs, so MAYBE they don’t make so many problems. Still, better safe than sorry. No-one ever said a thing about the very visible bandage on my arm ^_^

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