We visited Kotobuki Onsen in Kusunokimachi, Beppu, Oita. It is situated nearby the downtown of Beppu.
Masatoshi, who is the chairman of Beppu Hatto Onsendo which manages this onsen, welcomed us at the reception. In the past, Kotobuki Onsen had been managed by the local volunteers, but it became non-continuable because they were getting aged. In short, it was about to close. At that time, the members of Beppu Hatto Onsendo inherited the management to continue and save it from closing.
The dressing room is quite simple. It is connected to the bathroom.
The bathroom is simple as well. There is a bathtub at the centre of the room. It is nicely aged, and the onsen fans would like this nostalgic charm. The onsen is of sodium bicarbonate saline spring and suitable for soaking for a long time.
The hot water, which is 51°C|124°F, always flows into the bath. In Kotobuki Onsen, if the bath is too hot, bathers can adjust the amount of water by themselves, which means they are respected and trusted by managers.
Nobuyoshi is a member of Beppu Hatto Onsendo and is also a member of the operational staff of this onsen. He spends 40 minute to drive from the home to Kotobuki Onsen.
This is a women’s bathroom. As you can see, the room is bigger than the Men’s bathroom. Kotobuki Onsen has been running from 1899. Originally, there only is a Women’s bathroom, and a Men’s bath was built 25 years later in 1924. Bathing at Kotobuki Onsen has been said to treat women’s health issues since it opened, which was recorded in a local history book. That's interesting.
These days, many public bathhouses are getting operationally unsustainable and disappearing as a result. Masatoshi noticed that situation and started to improve it by connecting bathhouses to share the practical knowledge among them. He also tries to find a solution for another important issue. In many public bathhouses, most of the people taking care of the daily operation are getting really aged. In Kotobuki Onsen, some local students help operating it as a volunteer. Masatoshi is trying to share the know-how to get local students involved in the activity to operate public bathhouses and preserve the culture for the next generation.
Finally, as written before, Kotobuki Onsen has been said to treat women’s health issues, furthermore, it was regarded as a lucky place for getting pregnant in the past. This board says that this onsen contains a rich amount of iron ions and bathing at this onsen can warm up the body thoroughly, and that help improving the health conditions of women. As this story shows, onsens have been connected to the health care from long time ago.
Name: Kotobuki Onsen
Address: 11-15 Kusunokimachi, Beppu, Oita
Access (Car): 20 min from the centre of Oita City. 47 min from the Oita airport
Parking Lot: None (paid parking nearby)
Opening Hours: 13:00 - 22:00
*The private usage available from 10:00 to 12:00 with prior reservation required.
Closing Days: 10th, 25th
Price: JPY 100
*JPY 1000 per hour for the private usage