Did you know that Spirited Away, an Academy Award winner and Japan’s highest-grossing movie of all time got its inspiration through a magnificent bathhouse? Well, the bathhouse is none other than a place called Dogo Onsen, a famous hot spring in Shikoku.
Dogo Onsen is a hot spring located in Matsuyama (松山), Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県) in Japan. With a history of 3,000 years (or more!), it is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan. This hot spring is also said to be the main inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away. Dogo Onsen is a popular destination not only among the locals and tourists, but its clientele also includes Japan’s most renowned guests, the Imperial Family.
The main building of Dogo Onsen is a communal bathhouse which was built in 1894. It contains a three-story Meiji Period wooden castle-like bathhouse which evokes a sense of nostalgia and transports guests back to the past. A watchtower with red glass windows on the roof which has drums that are played 3 times a day to indicate the time. The sound produced by the drums was selected as one of the top 100 Soundscapes of Japan.
On the first floor, the main bathhouse is called Kami no Yu whilst a smaller yet more exclusive Tama no Yu is on the second floor. There are several packages available for guests to choose from with varying levels of access to the facilities, some of which include tea and snacks. However, a special bath called “Yushinden” is exclusive to the Imperial Family. Although it is not open for the public’s use, guests can still enjoy a guided tour of the royal facilities with a minimal fee.
Nearby the Dogo Onsen also features many other attractions such as shopping, an arcade, restaurants, museums, temples and much more. Wandering the streets of the area, taking a bath and relaxing in yukata will definitely provide a unique and extraordinary experience for your stay in Japan.
How to get there:
Take JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, from Tokyo to Okayama Station. From Okayama Station, use JR Seto-ohashi to Matsuyama Station and finally take a street car to Dogo Onsen.
Take a flight from Haneda to Matsuyama Airport, and to Dogo Onsen by bus or car.