Day use onsens and foot baths
Asagama Onsen Park: Furusato no Yu Bath House
In addition to the thirteen public onsen, Nozawa Onsen has an unofficial fourteenth Soto Yu bath house: Furusato no Yu.
Located on the slope up to Ogama, this traditional, wooden building blends in perfectly with the little town’s atmosphere and history. It’s considered to be a gensen kakenagashi bath, whose natural hot spring water flows continuously from its original source.
Compared to the other Soto Yu, this modern hot spring facility (it was built in 2011) is more spacious, and features facilities more common in hotel-type bath houses: towel hire, waiting-room with drinks, hairdryers, separate booths for showering with shampoo, conditioner and soap supplied, and multiple baths for each gender- one outdoor bath and two indoor baths on each side.
This facility has an entry fee.
The “atsuyu” (hot bath) is between 44 and 45 degrees Celsius, and the “nuruyu” (warm bath) is between 42 and 43 degrees Celsius.
Sparena Nozawa Onsen
Boasting an outdoor facility with a “gensen kakenagashi”—a hot spring whose water flows endlessly from its original source—the spa complex of Sparena Nozawa Onsen is a place to unwind with your friends, family or partner in the town’s mineral-rich, hot spring water. The spa is equipped with indoor and outdoor pools, especially recommended for onsen first-timers, since the water temperatures are lower compared to Nozawa Onsen’s communal bath houses.
During peak season, from December to March, many visitors use Sparena as a base camp for a one-day visit to Nozawa Onsen. The facilty opens at 6.30 am, so you can enjoy breakfast before starting your snowy adventure in the mountains. Stash your belongings in the lockers and head out to the ski resort, or unwind in the relaxation room equipped with reclining chairs, until the bathing area opens around 1 pm (you can rent swimwear and towels from the spa).
Sparena’s restaurant serves local delicacies, some of them prepared with the area’s popular Nozawana leaf vegetable. And if you drop by during summer, you will have access to the outdoor pool adorned with a waterfall and fountain, especially popular with children, while the terrace turns into a beer garden.
Ashiyu – footbaths- are facilities where people can easily enjoy hot spring water simply by rolling up the bottoms of their trousers and soaking their feet.
These is an ashiyu called “Akuto-yu” just in front of the O-yu bathhouse, open all year round, and a larger one near Ogama- “Yurari” open during spring, summer and Autumn.
In Japan, it is often said that, “half immersion bathing”—soaking only the lower half of the body—is good for the health.
Soaking your whole body in hot water, as at a regular bathing house, applies water pressure to the whole body, which may cause too much burden on the heart and the lungs, for people with certain health conditions.
Ashiyu offers an alternative; you can enjoy the spring water for a longer period from a relaxed sitting position.
It is simple to use ashiyu- all you have to do is take off your shoes. It is a great way to remove your fatigue, refresh you before you head home after your day in Nozawa.