We visited "Kawanabe Onsen" in Kawanabe-cho Hirayama, Minamikyushu. As you can see, the architecture of the building is really unusual and impressive. It looks as if it is going to be broken, however (of course), it is by design.
The owner Akemi welcomed us at the reception. Kawanabe Onsen was opened by the previous owner in 1981, he drilled the ground to discover the hot spring source by himself and designed this unique building. You can see his unique creativity here and there in Kawanabe Onsen.
On the aisle leading to the bathroom, you can find a Buddha statue wearing a helmet. Even for us Japanese, this was the first time in our life to see a Buddha with a helmet. Maybe the Buddha is watching us while paying attention to the security.
There is a big woody table in the dressing room. The room is well maintained and clean, and also equipped with lockers.
There are four baths in the bathroom. They are "Bath for rinse off your body (not for soaking, just for scooping and pouring the water)", "Warm bath", "Hot bath", and "Cold bath" in the clockwise order starting from the left-bottom of the picture. After rinsing off surface dirt, take the hot bath first until your body is heated up thoroughly, then take the cold bath, and repeat it as much as you like. By doing this, you would be refreshed.
The water type is alkaline, simple thermal spring. The water is thickened and makes your skin smooth. You can see it if you touch your skin while soaking in the bath.
The faucet is covered with a net to filter out depositions dissolved in the water. A large amount of depositions piles in the net, it shows the water contains rich minerals.
In the evening almost everyday, frequent bathers get together in the bathroom to relieve their body and to chat with friends. They are like classmates from the past, and the room is filled with joy. Everyone looks so happy.
There is another woody house in front of the main building. This was also built by the previous owner, and there is a lounge in this house. After taking a bath, you can take a drink and relax yourself here. The architecture is unusual as well, wood stems are embedded in the window frames.
In the centre of the lounge, a big iron kettle is hanged from the ceiling. Although it is hard to know from this picture, this kettle is really big, definitely bigger than your head! And woody chairs are surrounding the kettle in a rough but deliberate order. The wildness of the woods is emphasized. If you visit Kawanabe Onsen, you should also visit this lounge, you will be surprised with the creativity of the previous owner.
Finally, the door is also stylish. It is decorated with the enormous wood stem. The design made by the nature is nicely mixed with the architecture. The previous owner designed everything without making construction documents. We think we should call him as "Gaudí in Kagoshima", and thus Kawanabe Onsen can be Sagrada Família in Kagoshima.
Name: Kawanabe Onsen
Address: 6180, Kawanabe-cho Hirayama, Minamikyushu, Kagoshima
Access (Car): 43 min from the centre of Kagoshima city. 57 min from the Kagoshima airport
Parking Lot: 15
Opening Hours: 14:00 - 21:00
Closing Days: Tuesday
Price: JPY 390