Monday, May 21, 2012

Hot Spring on an Island (Ioujima, Nagasaki)

The best island hot spring in Nagasaki is Yasuragi on Iojima.

Enjoy a Selection of Baths
Most people only know about Nagasaki because the U.S. military dropped an atomic bomb on that city near the conclusion of WWII. Nagasaki is culturally and geographically amazing. The Shimabara/Unzen area of Nagasaki has been designated as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. The park includes a volcano, called Fugendake, and where volcanoes play, hot springs sprout.

Today's post will introduce a gorgeous hot spring, called Yasuragi Ioujima, (やすらぎ伊王島) on a small island a short distance by boat from Nagasaki.

Yasuragi Ioujima is the name of a hotel on the small island of Ioujima, not the infamous island of WWII  history, Iwo jima. Jima or shima, means island in Japanese  Ioujima is actually two tiny islands joined by small bridges. The distance between the islands is no more than twenty meters. Circling the islands by bicycle can be done within a few hours, including taking time to look at the ocean views or stop and swim in the sea. Rental bicycles are available for two or three hundred yen.

A small ferry takes half an hour from Nagasaki to the island. There is also a bridge, but I recommend taking the ferry because you can get a panoramic view of Ioujima, other islands, and Nagasaki Bay.  Also, riding a ferry promotes the feeling of relaxation and escaping from the routines of everyday life.

The spaciously arranged hot spring facilities at Yasuragi Ioujima are beautifully designed: seasoned wood, clean stones, water running out of holes in stones. Each  indoor bath is different. The sea is visible from all of the outdoor baths, as well as from the steam sauna. Olive oil extract mixed with  hot water distinguishes one indoor bath from probably all others in Japan. I have bathed in Japanese hot springs mixed with milk, green tea, sake, and various fruits, but never olive oil. Next time, I'll try and remember to bring some pasta.

Another unique bathing experience is lying down on a reclining wooden platform  which has hot water flowing down from the top. Only the part of your body touching the wood is heated. As I lay  daydreaming and finding shapes in clouds, into my field of vision came a large dark-colored bird of prey, circling for food in the sea below. It suddenly cried loudly, a sound which thrilled me as I am a nature lover.  Suddenly, though, small black droplets flew out of its anus, like a group of parachutists jumping out of a plane. I was amazed at first, then disconcerted as the cloud of droplets fell toward my naked body. Luckily, for me, but unluckily for anyone in the nearby female bathing area, the droplets moved in the wind a few meters to my side. Yes, bathing in hot springs is a dangerous sport, not for the faint of heart.

Click here for a short commercial produced by the hotel above. I receive no commissions, and I include this link only because the short video does a good job of showing the activities on the island and the gorgeous baths.

Another island with hot springs that I recommend is Sakurajima in Kagoshima.
Indoor Hinoki Bath

Outdoor Reclining Bath - Watch Out for Birds!
Notice the Water Pouring Out of a Hole in the Stone


Explanation about the Olive Oil Extract Bath