テッパンおおいた

テッパンおおいた

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Sakurayu family bath

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Honestly speaking, a family bath reminded me of a little awkward moment with my best friend, Mihoko. When we took a family bath as our first onsen experience together, its bathtub was unexpectedly too small and I felt a little embarrassed. However, after that, we challenged Beppu Hatto Hot Srings Road and finally won the title of “Beppu Onsen Expert” twice.  Such brave onsen challenges have made us closer and open-minded, so we have nothing to hide each other any more and don’t have to worry about each one’s eyes regarding our bodylines.

They say each family bath in Sakurayu was named after cherry blossoms and the guests can enjoy the beautiful flowers from the private bathtubs. As soon as I heard the news that some of the cherry blossoms there had already started blooming, as an onsen expert, I wanted to visit Sakurayu to see if it deserves its name and how much charm it has. So, I asked Mihoko to go with me.

When we arrived there, we found some cherry blossoms already start blooming beside the signboard of “Sakurayu”and others in twos and threes in the garden. We bought a bath ticket at a ticket dispenser not over the counter. As it wasn’t easy to select one bathtub out of over twenty, we had to ask a staff about the details of the family bath. The staff politely explained the sizes, the shapes etc.

“Let’s choose the small bathtub  just for two. It’s only \2,000,”Mihoko suggested.I recalled the small awakwardness at the first onsen experience with her, but without mentioning it, I agreed,“O.K, let’s  take the small one.”

Our bathtub was the furthest from the entrance.  We could enjoy the journey to our destination with the charming views of architecture and Japanese garden. When we reached, we turned back the signboard at the entrance of our room, showing“ we are taking a bath”, and then, opened the door.

“Wow!!!!!”

The room was so spacious、and it was a rockbath. Over a large window was a splendid view of cherry blossoms already started blooming with bamboo trees behind.

“Wonderful! Wonderful! ”, we kept shouting, “Wonderful!”

Because it is coin-operated, the onsen hot water is changed every time new guests come in. During the short time we were taking off our clothes, old onsen water was  already changed to fresh hot water. Though the onsen was a little hot, its heat couldn’t knock us down because Beppu Jimosen had already trained us as onsen masters (Beppu Jimosen means exclusive Beppu Onsen which is managed, maintained and used only by the local onsen experts.) We discussed,“It’s not good to add water to hot onsen water because it would dilute and change the component of onsen”. While enjoying the beauty of the cherry blossoms from our bathtub, we started laughing at our own idea and said, ”We are already qualified as onsen madams who go to Beppu Onsen as part of their lives.”

There was an old-fashioned key to lock the large window. We unlocked the key with clicking sounds and opened the window. We could enjoy the fantastic atmosphere through the big open window just like a grandma would usually have at home.  We felt as if we were taking an open-air bath while being relaxed indoor bathtub. I got a brilliant idea I would come back at lunch time when the cherry blossoms become in full bloom.

Generally each family bath has a capacity, and I asked the front staff about it on leaving. Surprisingly, the staff answered,“We  have no capacity.”

Really? Does it mean it will just cost \500 if we come as a group of 4?? 5 people for \400、6 for…. No, I should stop thinking like this. I instantly stopped calculating the fee with division. I realized I had better visit Sakurayu only with my best friend, Mihoko, to enjoy our conversation to our hearts’content at our own slow pace, rather than ruin such precious and luxuious time just for money.

※1“Sakura” means cherry blossoms, while “yu”means  hot water or onsen. In this article, “yu” refers to hot spring.
※2“Family bath”is a private bath where a family or a group can enjoy in a separate place.

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