|The Big Hot Spring of Zao in Winter|
|Standing with Zao Snow Monsters|
However, while walking along the steep edge of a ski run in Zao after snowshoeing among the snow monsters, I noticed the appealing smell of sulfur in the brisk air to my left. I walked through the snowy wooded area and peered between the leafless trees into a precipitous ravine. To my astonishment, I saw a large natural outdoor hot spring and a river of hot water running downhill. It was the Big Outdoor Hot Spring of Zao, which was closed because of the heavy snowfall.
I assume that shoveling and disposing of enough snow every day for the public to reach the hot spring would be too much effort. Perhaps, there is also a danger of an avalanche.
The hot spring looked so inviting that I was sorely tempted to strip and jump in. Nonetheless, I did not follow my bathing impulse because my naked body would have been visible to numerous skiers, and despite years of bathing in Japan, I still have some sense of modesty. Besides that, I was afraid of being arrested.
Now, I have a new goal; that is to return to Zao when the hot spring is open and bathe in its rich natural environment. What a spectacular idea!
If you are interested in reading about two other, closed in winter, Japanese outdoor hot springs along rivers, click here and afterward click here.