Manganji Onsen "Kawayu" / "Ueyu"
We visited “Manganji Onsen Kyodoyu” and “Kawayu” in Manganji, Minamioguni-machi, Aso-gun, Kumamoto. Both of them are now maintained by a local community. First, we went to Kawayu that is located under Ryokan Seisenso.
This is the appearance of Kawayu, Kawa (川) means "River" in Japanese, and actually Kawayu is situated in a river. And, as you can see, there is nothing to hide around the bath, it’s an absolute “open-air” bath. Everyone can see you bathing from the other side of the river. Some years ago, a TV program described this bath as the most embarrassing bath in Japan.
Wow, red Fundoshi! There is a small undressing area just up from the bath. When we visited there for photo shooting, we met a man wearing red fundoshi. That’s unbelievable! Complete open-air bath is rare, but the man with red fundoshi in 2016 is quite rare. Anyway, put the coins into the box to take a bath.
The man with red fundoshi, Tetsuo is 90 years old, and takes a bath in Kawayu almost everyday. The water level of the bath is the same as that of the river, you can experience a unique view. The hot spring source is located at the bottom of the bathtub, warm simple thermal water comes out from it.
Ueyu is only several minutes walk from Kawayu. This building is for Men’s bath, Women’s bath is in Seisenso.
Ueyu used to have an own hot spring source, however, it was lost due to the earthquakes, and now the hot spring source the same as Kawayu is used. Although Men’s bath and Women’s bath are separated now, there used to be only a mixed bath, and locals took that bath regardless of sex.
Itsuko (lenf) is the manager of Seisenso, and Kajiko (right) is her old friend. They chat about nothing everyday. According to Itsuko, a famous Japanese film director Yoji Yamada came to Seisenso three times, she said “If you meet him, please tell him I’m still alive and active.”
This is Manganji Temple located close to Kawayu and Ueyu. This temple is said to be built in 1274 by Tokisada Hojyo, the area name derives from this temple.
In Majganji Temple, you can see historical tombstones. These were made in the Kamakura period and were dedicated to the Hojyo clan - Tokisada, Sadamune, and Yukitoki. The tombstones are specified as cultural heritages of Kumamoto Prefecture. In Manganji, you can enjoy both onsens and heritages of the Kamakura period.
Name: Kawayu / Ueyu
Address: 2299 Manganji Shizu, Minamioguni-machi, Aso-gun, Kumamoto
Access (Car): 1 hour 29 min from the centre of Kumamoto city. 1 hour 12 min from the Kumamoto airport
Parking Lot: 15
Opening Hours: Kawayu 24/7, Ueyu 06:00 - 22:00
Closing Days: None
Price: Kawayu JPY 200, Ueyu JPY 300