If you’ve never tried a Japanese hot spring before, then why not consider visiting the Fukunoyu Onsen in Nagasaki City?
Bathing naked in front of strangers isn’t for everyone, but if you want to overcome your fears with a “baptism by fire” then what better way to do it then by plunging in at the deep end and bathing in the buff with the impressive view of an entire city before you?
The onsen is perched on top of a steep hill, with the view taking in the entirety of Nagasaki city and the mountains beyond. Given that it is a little bit difficult to get to for tourists without cars, the onsen has a regular shuttle bus that will pick you up from Nagasaki JR Station (or one of the major hotels on the way) and drop you off at the onsen for free. The bus runs fairly regularly during the daytime, but is only once an hour in the evening so you should time your return trip carefully.
The biggest public onsen I have been to so far, the Fukunoyu has many different types of baths to try out. Inside, there are rows of shower cubicles (both seated and standing types) for the obligatory pre-onsen wash. Digital thermometers let you know the current temperature of the baths so you can judge which bath you’d like to try before accidentally soaking in scalding water. Bath temperatures include cold, hot and very hot varieties. There are also jacuzzi style baths with streams of bubbles to massage away your aches and pains. The bubbles in each bath shoot out in a different directions, massaging different parts of the body. As I can’t read any kanji, it was a matter of trial and error to find out which sort of massage I would be receiving.
The outdoor baths at Fukunoyu are the crowning glory of the experience. In the women’s section there were three types of outdoor baths – the bed type baths where you could fully recline in a purpose built, bed-style bath, the ‘teacup’ style tubs built for one (or two!) to have a soak to themselves, and the skyline viewing baths that are built right on the edge of the balcony with glass walls, giving you an unfettered view of the entire city. The men’s onsen is much the same.
As well as the baths, the public onsen is also equipped with sauna and steam rooms, where you can use the exfoliating scrub to give yourself a jolly good clean in the humid environment.
The onsen has numerous vending machines around the building which you use with the payment wristband given to you on arrival. There is a restaurant where you can enjoy a hearty buffet meal, or a stall just outside that serves ice cream. If you fancy some quiet time, you can use various relaxing rooms to kick back and have a nap. For an extra fee, you can buy massages and other beauty treatments at the onsen. If the public onsen isn’t for you, there are also a couple of family rooms to hire for private use – but these are popular and you should book in advance if you’re set on a private bath. There is a shop at the entrance to the onsen where you can buy snacks, drinks, locally grown vegetables and other food products.
To use the public onsen costs 800 Yen for adults and 400 Yen for children. It’s a little more expensive than other public baths but you pay a premium for the luxury view, and the highly polished look of the place.
If you haven’t brought towels with you, there are small handtowels on sale for 100 Yen, or larger bathing towels which you can use for 150 Yen. Private family baths are 2,500 Yen for 60 minutes. Take a look at the website for a full breakdown of prices, and also for the location map and timetable of the shuttle bus. If you want a fantastic experience, you won’t be disappointed!
Fukunoyu Nagasaki*Automatic translation