Hitoyoshi Onsen "Shin Onsen"
We visited Hitoyoshi Onsen “Shin Onsen” in Koyamachi, Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto. This signboard indicates the years that have passed on Shin Onsen.
This is the front of the building. The combination of brown wood and blue roof is really attractive and full of nostalgia.
When you open the door, you can find a traditional bathhouse reception called Bandai, you should pay the entrance fee here. The owner Akiko is sitting on the reception seat. We can’t tell you, but if you know her age, you will be surprised. She says everyone regularly uses Shin Onsen has a beautiful smooth skin.
Shin Onsen has a nice dressing room. It still preserves the good-old atmosphere of more than 80 years ago. Facilities such as a bench and a bath scale are so nostalgic. Also, as the room is big, you can spend a long time in this room to chat with friends or to relax yourself after taking a bath.
Note that there are no lockers in this room, hence you need to keep your valuables by yourself.
The bathroom is also as the same as when it was built in 80 years ago. Although there are two bathtubs, only one of them is currently in use, because the amount of water has been decreasing. In summer, many tourists and anglers coming to the Kuma river visit Shin Onsen.
Subtle black water flows out of the faucet. The original temperature is 42°C (107.6°F), hence it is heated only in winter. As the bath is not too hot, you can take a long soak.
Hiroshi (left) and Hideki (right) are bathing together.
Hiroshi was born in Beppu that is renowned for hot springs in Japan. He says “When I come to Shin Onsen, I remember good old days in my childhood. This taste cannot be experienced in modern bathhouses such as Super Sento.” We agree with that. Hideki is 80 years old but still works as an art restorer. He says his son is doing the same job and the son already has the better technique than he has. He laughed.
Hitoyoshi suffered from floods of the Kuma river some times in the past. On the entrance door, there are some markings indicating the water level of each flood. We found a marking far beyond our height, which tells us how devastating the flood was.
Shin Onsen once stopped the business due to the decrease of water. During our interview, Akiko said several times “Onsen is like a living thing.” Depending the other onsens nearby, the amount of water and also the quality can change. She said Shin Onsen might not be able to continue the business if the water amount continue decreasing.
Name: Shin Onsen
Address: 80-2 Kōyamachi, Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto
Access (Car): 1 hour 16 min from the centre of Kumamoto city. 1 hour 9 min from the Kumamoto airport
Parking Lot: 4
Opening Hours: 13:00 - 22:00
Closing Days: Every first Monday
Price: JPY 300