|Sakinoyu in the late afternoon. Men's bath at left of the wall is said to have better view. (photo: Jan. 2009)|
Shirahama Onsen(白浜温泉) is known as one of the three oldest onsens in Japan (the other two are Arima and Dogo). The sodium hot spring is abundant still now, attracting many visitors mainly from Kansai area as it's easy to access from Osaka. I visited five of six public baths so far and found Sakinoyu（崎の湯）was the most recommendable.
The Sakinoyu has more than 1350-year history. It is said that Saimei Tenno (37th sovereign empress) took bath here in AD 658. Of course the original bath has gone and only a signbord tells its history.
Iwaburo at mid stage. This was hottest at my visit.
Aside from the history, its location makes Sakinoyu very popular among visitors. Just imagine an open-air bath by sea shore. You can enjoy sea view, sound of waves, and sometimes sea splashes while soaking. Be careful not to soak too long as Shirahama Onsen is hot and thick.
There are three bath tubs here. One at the highest stage is wooden bath, and Lower two are Iwaburo (rock baths). The bath on lowest stage is nearest to sea. For men, there are just two baths (no wooden bath).
Ladies to right, mens to left. Stone curving says "Japan's oldest Sakinoyu".
◆Sakinoyu, Shirahama Onsen（白浜温泉崎の湯）
Type: Gender separated open-air bath. Day visit only. Swim suites not allowed.
Address: 1668 Yuzaki, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama Pref.
Business hour: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (7:00 AM to 7:00 PM in July and August)
Admission fee: ¥300 Buy your ticket at a vending machine.
Equipment: Small lockers for valuables outside of the changing space (¥100 neccessary). Lockers inside of changing space are free, but some locks don't work.
Access: Take a bus to Sandanbeki（三段壁）from Shirahama Station and get off at Yuzaki （湯崎）bus stop. Then walk forward for a few minutes and you'll find a red sgin board (See left photo).
Express trains named Kuroshio, Super Kuroshio, and Ocean Arrow serve from Kyoto and Osaka to Shirahama via Wakayama.
Link: Map of the Sakinoyu in English
My rating (A - E): B
More tips: You can try "reverse egg" at Kamakura Shoten nearby (see photo below). Onsen boiled egg (onsen tamago) usually has soft white and almost liquid yolk, but onsen tamago here has softer white and almost solid yolk. ¥70
Reverse eggs are in the turtle shaped tub.