We visited "Shinondan Kotobukiyu" in Nogata, Osaki-cho, Soo-gun. Although the location changed from the original place, Shinondan Kotobukiyu opened in 1868 as a place for therapeutic bathing, and has over 100 years of history. A lot of smoke emitting from the chimney, which is an indication of kósen, draws visitors' attention. The current building was built about 50 years ago.
The entrance fee is JPY 350 which is cheaper than the average fee for kósen (approx. JPY 400). Additionally, Shinondan Kotobukiyu opens at 8am in summer although most of the other kósens do not open early in the morning because kósen water needs to be heated up artificially for bathing (and the fuel cost increases according to the length of opening hours).
The dressing room is simple, there are some open compartments and boxes.
The bathroom is simple as well. According to the local folklore, a crane stayed at a cool spring to cure the wounds by soaking in the water, and that is said to be the origin of Kotobukiyu. Including this kósen, most of the kósens have a story about their therapeutic benefits. And still in the modern age, many visitors come to a kósen to seek for the benefits.
Hot water flows out of the faucet located at the left-bottom of this picture. Many bathers say soaking in this bath can heat up the body thoroughly. They say the water treats skin rushes, burn injuries, and skin diseases. Also, note that the water is undrinkable.
Norio (the name of the man in the picture) is a farmer, and comes to Shinondan Kotobukiyu once or twice in a month.
Firewood, sawdust, and a boiler are used to heat up the cool spring (kósen) water. As the original water temperature is less than 25°C (77°F) (see "An Introduction to Onsen" for details), every kósen owner struggles to minimize the cost for heating up the water for bathing. From that point of view, kósen businesses are harder than onsen businesses.
The owner keeps a cat, looks sleepy. During our interview, the owner Keiko says the issue is that the most of the visitors are aging, and thus the number of visitors is decreasing. In a kósen business (including other bathing service providers), the cost required for maintaining and running the bathing facilities is independent from the customer count, it is fixed according to the facilities size. Thus, the decrease of the customer count may result in the closure of the business. As Shinondan Kotobukiyu has a long history and excellent kósen water, we hope more people visit there to enjoy bathing.
Name: Shinondan Kotobukiyu
Address: 4936, Nogata, Osaki-cho, Soo-gun, Kagoshima
Access (Car): 1 hour 45 min from the centre of Kagoshima city. 1 hour 25 min from the Kagoshima airport
Parking Lot: 15
Opening Hours: 08:00 - 19:00 (summer), 09:00 - 18:00 (winter)
Closing Days: Every 1st, 10th, 20th, 21th (also, can close without notice in Winter)
Price: JPY 350