Onsen (hot spring), Rishiri Island

I had wondered why would anyone take a hot bath in summer. But after spending the whole day cycling up and down the northern coast, I finally understood why this was something to look forward to!

There’s a bath house (Rishirifuji onsen) just across from the campsite, surrounded by beautiful pencil straight pine trees. It costs 500 yen for adults. Towel and locker are extras.

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First take off shoes at the entrance and buy a ticket from the vending machine. Then proceed to the bath. Males and females are segregated. Children must be supervised. But it’s great to see moms and grannies with little kids in tow who actually love bath time!

In the changing room, there are baskets. Each person puts their things in their own baskets. Children included. Take off all clothing and just leave them in your basket. First you proceed to the shower, which is just separated from the changing room by a glass door. This sitting-on-a-stool-to-scrub/shower is still a novelty for me despite having some practice at the youth hostel’s bathroom.

The onsen and the shower room are all in the same room, filled with steam. After your shower you can proceed to the onsen. There’s a jacuzzi style pool which feels a little bit cooler, so you can gradually get used to the temperature. This particular bath house has high ceilings and is very spacious. The floor to ceiling window’s lower half is frosted but there is ample natural lighting.  Thereafter, you can also proceed to the outdoor onsen, surrounded by those pencil straight pine trees, and just soak in the water surrounded by nature.  I prefer the outdoor one the most since it’s the least steamy. There’s also a sauna if you like to use it.

Those who come to Rishiri island would have spent a lot of time outdoors. Soak those tired muscles and let the hot water do its work.

There’s a notice in the changing room that says who should/shouldn’t be in the onsen. All in Japanese if you can read it. Otherwise just follow your body’s response.

After one’s done soaking, shower again. In the changing room there are hair dryers and shared combs (put in those ultra violet light bacteria killing ovens). Amazingly there’s not a drop of water on the floor in the changing room. Everyone conscientiously makes sure they are dry before wandering out of the bathroom.

Outside the bath there are resting areas where people just chill on the floor or lie on deck chairs, looking out to the lush foliage. There’s even a specific room for chit chatting. Drinking water is also available. Remember to rehydrate, you will need it!

This is really fun. Better than the hammam I once tried.

Most importantly, I am clean again.

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