Yuzanso Onsen (里湯昔話 雄山荘)

Monday, 19 February 2018

Bathing in an onsen (温泉) or hot spring is probably one of the top activities you can do to experience Japanese culture to the fullest. It's relaxing and even considered a healing process, both mentally and physically, to relieve stress and fatigue. In additional to going to an onsen, we also wanted to stay at a traditional Japanese style inn known as ryokan (旅館), so we decided that staying at an onsen ryokan was killing two birds with one stone. Our hot spring hotel was called Yuzanso (里湯昔話 雄山荘), located in the city of Otsu (大津市) just 40 minutes away by train from Kyoto.

The hotel itself is another 5 minute drive away from Ogoto-onsen Station (おごと温泉駅), but Yuzanso kindly offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to pick customers up and from the station. Our room was located on the second non-smoking floor, and it was a Japanese style room with tatami floors and futon beds, a private bathroom (with an automatic tap!) and open-air bath. We didn't use it, but the room even had a mini kitchen area with a small fridge. It was quite cloudy that afternoon when we arrived (around 3:30pm), so the view from our balcony wasn't too fabulous. But when skies were clearer, we could actually see Lake Biwa (琵琶湖), the largest freshwater lake in Japan, in the background.

Although we stayed at the onsen hotel for one night only, it was the most expensive single night for accommodation on our entire trip—approximately AUD$500. However, I think was worth it for the experience, especially because our accommodation plan included dinner and a Japanese breakfast the next morning. Oh, and here's us just chillaxing in the lobby before dinner:

Rather than jumping into the onsen as soon as we arrived, we decided to have dinner first and then wait around 10:00pm to go. Dinner was served at 6:00pm in a very comfortable hall, of about 10-12 tables per room. We had about 10 "courses" and each course was very nicely presented and of a decent quality. It wasn't one of the best meals we had, but we were pretty full by the end of it. I particularly loved the soup with the vegetables because it was heartwarming and simple.

It was our first time bathing in an onsen, so we were quite nervous and wanted to visit when there was the least amount of people. We figured that most people will go after dinner and planned to go later when there was, assumingly, less people. However, after we had dinner and a shower, we basically said "stuff it" and went to have a look at the onsens.

When we arrived, there were only about a handful of other women and young girls in the changing room. We couldn't actually see how many people were in the onsen because we had remove all your clothes first before going downstairs to the baths. As you know, any type of clothing is strictly forbidden so you must enter the onsen fully naked. However, you may take a small towel with you as a wash cloth (but it must not go in the water).

We were hesitating for about 10 minutes, but eventually decided to take the plunge since we were there already. When I went down to the onsen, I was quite surprised there was only about 2 other people there! Turns out that most people probably had the same idea we had (going at a later time), so not many other people were actually using the onsen at around 7:30pm.

Regarding the awkwardness of it, onsens are important part of Japanese culture, so no one really cares or stares, for that matter. So unless you make it a big deal out of it, no one else does. I thoroughly enjoyed our time in the baths (you can't really stay for too long because of the heat) and I would definitely do it again in the future. At Yuzanso, there are separate baths for men and women, including indoor and outdoor ones too. We went to both the indoor and outdoor one.

After we came back from the onsens, the staff at Yuzanso had moved the table that was in the middle of our room to the side and set up futon beds. The beds were more comfortable than I had imagined!

Our traditional Japanese breakfast the next morning was light and refreshing. My favourite dish was the grilled fish over charcoal. Although our stay at Yuzanso was a short one, it was a really good experience and a great retreat from hustle and bustle of the city.

Yuzanso Onsen (里湯昔話 雄山荘)
1-9-28 Ogoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0101
520-0101 滋賀県 大津市 雄琴1-9-28

Post a Comment

© FLFIONA. Design by FCD.