One of the truly heartwarming things that came out of the Kumamoto Earthquake was seeing how local businesses rallied together and tried to support the citizens in need of help. I discovered the Daifuku no Yu earlier this year – it is only a few minutes away from my apartment and has become my local onsen. During the aftermath of the earthquake (when I and thousands of other people like me were without running water), this friendly local onsen opened its doors, for free, to enable those in need to have a very much sought-after hot bath! Queues stretched down the road and hundreds of people benefited from their kindness. As if I wasn’t already happy enough with the service at Daifuku no Yu, I now have even more reason to be enamored with this great local onsen.
According to the website, the onsen offers ten different types of baths for enthusiastic bathers to enjoy. I have visited several small, local onsens during my time in Japan and usually find that their choice of bathing options is rather limited, but not so at Daifuku no Yu! In the ladies room, there are two different saunas available (one hot, one very hot!) and a recently repaired steam room which I have yet to try out.
Aside from the usual shower facilities, there are great types of pools to try. Nearest the door is a small, hot pool – so hot that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually using it before. Next to that is my favorite – the mineral pool. The water is a milky gray color and the smell lets you know that it’s good for you even before you get in. Next to the main sauna is a cold plunge pool, and beyond that, the main warm bath.
The main bath is split into two sections, but as the water flows from one into the other, the temperature is about the same. In the first pool is a seating area, a relaxation area where you can lay back and recline on a bed of bubbles, and in the far corner is one of the “denki buro” baths (electric baths) that I steer well clear of!
Up the steps and over into the second pool, there is another relaxation station where you can sit on a platform that shoots bubbles up from beneath. There is also a sort of waterfall you can sit underneath of for a pleasant drumming sensation on your back – though be careful of your neck – and two tiled seats with bubble streams from behind (in the women’s section, only one of the seats has a working jet stream.) Judging by the pictures on the website, the men’s bathing facilities are much the same.
One of the main things I like about Daifuku no Yu is that it feels fancy and luxurious even though it’s just a little local onsen. The building doesn’t look anything grand from the outside, and entering into the little reception area, you can’t help but feel that the decor is a little dated and weird, with a musty ancient armchair and examples of taxidermy. However, the bathing areas are beautiful, with intricately tiled walls depicting cranes soaring in sunny skies with a mountain scene behind – it’s really quite charming. Saying that, there is a weird array of garden gnomes and other strange ornaments which have been cemented into the walls around the baths that give a definite quirky feel to the place. But who doesn’t like a little extra quirk in their life every now and then?
Closed on Tuesdays, the onsen is open from 13:00 to 23:00 daily. Entry is 390 yen for adults (it says 400 on the website so maybe the price will go up soon?) and while body soap and shampoo are available for free, you can also purchase extra items and towels from the front desk. Use of the hair dryer is 10 yen per 90 seconds. If you are unsure of onsen etiquette, be sure to check out the ‘How to Use’ section on their website. Happy bathing!
Daifuku no Yu’s Website *Japanese only