Kikuchi Onsen "Shironoi Onsen"
We visited “Shironoi Onsen” in Waifu, Kikuchi, Kumamoto, which opened in 1956. This is one of the oldest onsen in the Kikuchi Onsen area which was developed in 1952. Shironoi Ryokan is now located next to Shironoi Onsen, it was built after the onsen opened, originally it wasn't there.
He is the manager Chōhachi who used to be in charge of Kumamoto Onsen Union. The name “Shironoi (城乃井)” derives from the Kanji character used in both the area name and his name. The area name is 城山 and his family name is 城, so he named the onsen using this character.
Saburo is a reception staff member and is 83 years old. He works in the early morning. The entrance fee is JPY 250. The manager Chōhachi sets this low price so that locals can use the onsen everyday.
This is the dressing room. You can use lockers to keep your valuables.
The bathroom is decorated with a beautiful tile art of Mt. Aso. The tiles used in this painting are made by craftsmen in Tajimi in Gifu Prefecture which is famous for potteries. Chōhachi visited them to order the tiles he wanted to create.
The women’s bathroom is decorated with a different tile art. Animals drawn by the local children are painted.
From the faucet, 300 liters of hot spring water flows out per minute. As a large amount of water flows out, the freshness of the water is maintained.
He is a frequent bather Masatomo. This day, he came here early in the morning to exclusively enjoy soaking in a big bath.
Chōhachi strongly wants to preserve the culture of traditional public bathhouses which is disappearing in Japan. He says people should get together to take an action to preserve the culture, if we do nothing it will be certainly lost in the near future.
These days, Shironoi Onsen offers a free bathing workshop to local children to teach the manners in public bathhouses. Many onsen managers make efforts to preserve the disappearing cultures for the next generations.
Name: Shironoi Onsen
Address: 1375 Waifu, Kikuchi, Kumamoto
Access (Car): 47 min from the centre of Kumamoto city. 29 min from the Kumamoto airport
Parking Lot: 50
Opening Hours: Daily 06:00 - 23:00
Price: JPY 250