Friday, November 9, 2012

Seaside Japanese Hot Spring on Yakushima, Kagoshima

Submerging oneself in a hot spring, diving from rocks into the chilly sea, climbing back into the natural rock hot spring, and repeating this refreshing process is just one of many pleasures the remote island of Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture (屋久島鹿児島県), has to offer. 

Hirauchikaisen Onsen. (平内海中温泉)

Entrance into the seaside onsen is only during low tide because during high tide the hot spring is part of the ocean. Males and females bathe together under the open sky. 


Be Prepared for Nudity at This Seaside Hot Spring
There are no changing rooms or other buildings. Entrance is free, but there is a collection box for a donation of 100 yen. Yakushima has other hot springs, but this one is the most memorable. The name of this seaside onsen is Hirauchikaisen. (平内海中温泉)

Because of its spectacular environmental qualities, much of Yakushima was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Separated from the mainland, unique species of deer, monkeys, and trees have evolved.  These are respectively called Yakuzaru, Yakushika, and Yakusugi. Saru is the Japanese word for monkey. Shika means deer, and sugi translates as cedar. The Yakusugi are some of the oldest trees on our planet. The island is a great place for scuba diving, snorkeling, and mountain climbing. After a long day of athletic activities on Yakushima, nothing beats loosening up in a hot spring while watching the waves touch the sky. 

Yakushima is located in the far southwestern area of Japan, so getting there takes considerable time and money, but your efforts will be well rewarded if you avoid the rainy season during May and June, as well as the typhoon season in September. Follow this link to read about travel routes to Yakushima and how to get around this magnificent island.

An online visitor's guide provides useful information and unusual facts about the island. For example, "There are around 7,000 wild Yakuzaru monkeys and an equal number of Yakushika deer, both unique sub-species only found on Yakushima. Together they out-number the island residents." 

Another spectacular seaside hot spring in Kagoshima Prefecture is also, believe it or not, a Shinto Shrine.


Far away on the Sea of Japan in Niigata Prefecture is the lovely Japan onsen town of Senami. Any time of day or night is a good time to visit, but locals of Niigata often plan to arrive in late afternoon so that they can soak up the rays of the setting sun while also soaking in healthy hot mineral water.