Gokuraku literally translates as land of bliss and specifically refers to Sukhavati, Amitabha’s pure land in Mahayana Buddhism. It may be a stretch of the imagination to declare Gokuraku-yu a paradise but nonetheless the spa chain provides excellent facilities for a few relaxing hours. The company is one of Japan’s largest spa operators with 38 branches nationwide and they have also begun to test the (hot spring) waters in China where they aim to expand their heavenly empire over the coming years.
The Wakoshi branch is all you would expect from a large-scale spa operator with a variety of baths, saunas and relaxation areas as well as a large restaurant catering for all. The layout is atypical of a ‘super’ sento with a large showering area which provides shampoo, conditioner and body soap, a few large indoor baths, Jacuzzis, a cold bath, sauna and steam room.
Additionally, in Wako branch you will find an electric bath. Small electric currents are fired through the water giving the sensation of a small electric shock to your back and legs. This may (literally) be a shock to those who have never experienced it before so remembered, you are in the pure land and try not to scream too loudly. Once you get used to it, it can feel very pleasant although granted, it’s not for everyone.
Outside, there are two large baths – one equipped with a wide screen TV so you can watch a Japanese drama or game show whilst soaking – as well as hot stones which are ideal for taking a power nap on. Individual tubs and a larger garden area with some shrubbery may improve the facilities but if you’re looking for a relaxing couple of hours, you can’t go far wrong here. Massages by both masseuses and chairs are offered at additional costs whilst a large restaurant can be found on the ground floor. The food there is decent, varied and reasonably priced.
All in all, Wako Gokuraku-yu offers good value for money at 860yen on the weekdays and 1000yen on the weekends. Narimasu and Wakoshi stations are both a short walk away meaning you can go from the neon lights of downtown Tokyo to paradise in about half an hour!
Cost: 860Yen (weekdays), 1000Yen (weekends)
Provided: Shampoo, soap, conditioner, use of lockers
Not provided: Towels (available at extra charge)
Step Out of Busy Tokyo Life and Into an Edo Style Onsen Oasis