Oct 17, 2009

Daikokuya, Kashi Onsen, Fukushima Pref.

Rotenburo for ladies of "Ebisu no yu". They say the best time to see beautifully colored leaves is around Oct. 20 every year. (photo: Oct.2009)

Kashi Onsen(甲子温泉) in Fukushima Prefecture, Tohoku Region has long history since first discovered in 1384. It was forgotten for long time, rediscovered in 1600 and the first ryokan was built in 1636.

There is still only one ryokan named Daikokuya(大黒屋) now. It had been under renovation for a while, and the newly rebuilt main building opened in late June this year. They used to close the ryokan from late Nov. to end of March, but it's going to open throughout the year from coming winter.

Newly built main building and annex buildings accommodate up to 60 persons.

There are two fountainheads, spouting 380 liters per minute together, both of them are transparent without strong scents, their touches are soft and smooth. One is 45.1°C and the other is 45.8°C at the fountainheads, around 40-41°C in the baths, perfect for long time soaking (at least for me).

Oct 4, 2009

General Info: Part 2 - Tattoo Ban

Tattoo ban signboards at the entrance of day visit onsens in Kanagawa and Tokyo. They say "People with tattoos or tattoo stickers are not allowed to enter regardless the size of tattoo" (left) and "People with tattoo can't take a bath here. If you don't follow, we will call police" (right).

This is a controversial topic, but most day visit onsens in Japan ban people with tattoo. Tattoos used to be a symbol of criminals and still being associated with Yakuza or violence group, at the same time the number of young people with tattoo just as fashion is increasing recently.

A manager of a day visit onsen once told me "We ban all kind of tattoos, even a tiny one, because sometimes it's difficult to distinguish a fashion tattoo from a scoundrel tattoo".

According to a newspaper's report a few days ago, a boss of a violence group or Yakuza was prosecuted recently for ignoring "tattoo ban" sign and a manager's petition to leave at least twice at a bath house.

Of course some onsens aren't strict about tattoo ban, and I know many foreign visitors with tattoo have enjoyed onsens in Japan without any trouble. But I feel it's getting stricter and I see the "tattoo ban" signs more often than a few years ago.

If you have a tattoo and plan to visit onsen, you'd better recognize there is a risk that you will be cordially asked to leave. I suggest people with tattoo to go to the onsens with private baths that you can share the bath just among your group.

I don't remember any tattoo ban signboard at ryokans. So I called the Japan Ryokan Association to confirm if the tattoo ban applies for ryokans as well. A young lady answered "There is no uniform consensus among the member ryokans about guests with tattoo, it depends on each ryokan's decision".