Royal Tainai Park Hotel in the quiet town of Tainai, Niigata. The Tainai Ski and Snowboard Area sits on the other side of a small valley from the baths. Bathers in the farthest bath outside the hotel are close enough to watch the action on the slopes, but the distance is too far for the skiers to see the faces and other body parts of bathers.
There is only one hotel and only one ski resort in this farming region below the higher mountains in this area. Except for the music emitted by speakers at the ski resort, it is a relaxing and quiet area.
Which makes it also a wonderful area for snowshoeing. The Tainai Ski Resort offers snowshoe tours, but we just wander by ourselves through the nearby healing woods.
Non-staying guests can soak for just eight hundred yen, or six hundred yen if you have a ski ticket from the nearby ski resort. Considering the setting and quality of the baths, this is one of the best deals in Niigata.
The water is transparent, but it feels slick because of the mineral content. The Japanese use the onomatopoeic phrase "nuru nuru" to describe this sensation. After bathing, your skin feels smooth, or "sube sube." The more you bathe in Japan, the more onomatopoeic phrases you will learn. That is just one more great reason to enjoy a Japanese onsen. To learn more Japanese for your next intercultural bathing experience, visit the Visual Japanese Onsen/Hot Spring Glossary.