Hitoyoshi Onsen "Tsutsumi Onsen"
We visited Hitoyoshi Onsen “Tsutsumi Onsen” in Shinmachi, Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto that opened in 1921 in the Taisho era. It is one of the oldest onsens in this area. In Hitoyoshi, a lot of onsens opened in 1930s to 1940s as a result of the boring rush. Thus, not a few of existing onsens opened in that age as well.
As you can see in the picture above, the building is really nicely aged. The staff have been working hard to preserve this aged building as is, because many people advice that this building is a heritage.
This is the reception. It is generally unstaffed although a security monitor is equipped. The price is JPY 200, it’s cheap. Yasuaki says this price indicates their gratitude to locals. He just hopes Tsutsumi Onsen continue to serve as a hub for social interaction in the local community. That’s the reason why this low price is kept.
This is the dressing room, you can use a box to put your clothes. Although there are some lockers, we recommend you to leave your valuables in your car.
As Yasuaki says “Simpler is better”, the bathroom is very simple but nicely aged as the same as the building. The right bathtub is shallow so that you can lie down in it. Lying in the bath is really relaxing.
A large amount of water always flows out of the faucet. The water has an excellent smooth touch, and is good for a long soak. Although 8am to 10am is a cleaning time, some bathers sometimes wait in line in front of the building. Yasuaki says humorously “When we are washing the bathroom in the morning, some people are waiting in line. So I sometimes open earlier to let them in!”
Kaneo (the name of the man in the bath) comes to Tsutsumi Onsen everyday with his wife. He became a fan of Tsutumi Onsen while accompanying his wife who has been an onsen lover for a long time.
By the way, Tsutsumi Onsen is operated by Sengetsu Shuzo which runs a Japanese saké brewery. When you visit the onsen, you can also visit the brewery located nearby. Actually, on the day we visited, many tourists came to the brewery. Yasuaki says they will guide every single tourist in 365 days. So, feel free to visit the brewery.
In the end of the brewery tour, of course, you can taste various types of Japanese sakés produced by Sengetsu Shuzo seeing the landscape of Hitoyoshi city. You can also hear the stories directly from the saké brewers.
We also enjoyed tasting. We tasted a shōchū “Kawabe.” The fruity aroma was exceptionally good as if it were a saké. Tsutsumi Onsen is highly recommended not only for its onsen quality but also for enjoying saké and shōchū.
Name: Tsutsumi Onsen
Address: 1 Shinmachi, Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto
Tel: 0966-22-3207 (Sengetsu Shuzo)
Access (Car): 1 hour 15 min from the centre of Kumamoto city. 1 hour 9 min from the Kumamoto airport
Parking Lot: 4
Opening Hours: Daily 05:00 - 08:00, 10:00 - 23:00
Price: JPY 200