Ukenokuchi Onsen "Shinseikan"
We visited Ukenokuchi Onsen “Shinseikan” in Tano, Kokonoe-machi, Kusu-gun, Oita. It opened in 1902, and the current owner Hiroaki is the third owner in its history.
Hiroaki welcomed us at the reception. He has been good at art, and learned chemistry in a university and worked as a researcher in a laboratory. Hence, he has a great DIY spirit. Actually, when the lodge was renovated, he actually constructed a garden and painted walls with professional carpenters. He really likes creating something with his hands. He says “Making something with my hands is easier than asking for professionals.”
This is the dressing room. You can use a bamboo box to put your clothes.
This is the Men’s open-air bath called “Kobushi no yu.” The bath is surrounded by Kobushi (Magnolia kobus) trees. It is really big, and 500 liters of hot spring water is supplied per minute. The temperature is about 41°C|105.8°F which is moderate for everyone. According to Hiroaki, the recommended season is May because you can enjoy bathing while watching beautiful green leaves in the daytime and Milky Way in the night. Also, the Women’s bath is called “Kaede no yu” which is also a huge open-air bath.
The water is originally clear and transparent; however, the colour changes to yellow after being exposed to air. Frequent bathers say the bath is plain and light although the water contains a rich amount of minerals.
Jyunji is 73 years old and came to Shinseikan for the first time in 48 years. He used to live here when he was a teacher. We were surprised to hear that. It might be a destiny to meet him on this anniversary day. After getting out of the bath, he joined out interview with Hiroaki, it was really lucky he eased the tension. Thanks to him, it was successful!
There is also an indoor bath in Shinseikan. The indoor bath is more strongly carbonated than the open-air bath. It is said the water improves blood circulation and thus can get rid of fatigue.
Hiroaki says what is important is believing yourself and doing what you think is good, that will lead to a success. He has a simple but strong philosophy. He also says “I don’t understand why the hotel price is getting higher on Friday and Saturday, because, in the weekend, it is easy to attract customers and improve the occupancy rate and the operation efficiency; however, on the other hand, the service quality to each customer is getting down. That is the reason why I don’t change the price in the weekend.” His idea is radical but unique. If you visit Shinseikan, please take a time to have a talk with him, he is really fun to talk with.
Name: Shinseikan (Ukenokuchi Onsen)
Address: 1427−1 Tano, Kokonoe-machi, Kusu-gun, Oita
Access (Car): 1 hour 8 min from the centre of Oita City. 1 hour 12 min from the Oita airport
Parking Lot: 30
Opening Hours: Daily 07:30 - 23:00
Closing Days: Not specified
Price: JPY 500