Translated by Richard Perkins
Momi No Yu Cafe, Ueno - Enjoy The Blessings Of A Hot Spring!
Written by Misa Tamaru
Momi no Yu Cafe in Ueno is a cafe with a built-in foot bath. Use of this amazing cafe bath costs 1080 yen for 45 minutes and comes with a delicious cup of herb tea and a five-minute massage too!
This is Ueno, an area that is a popular destination among both Tokyoites and visitors to the city. On the lively Ameyokocho shopping street you can walk while enjoying local snacks and foods, and at Ueno Zoo you can even meet pandas!
After wandering around the area I’m sure that there are many people who will have had a good time yet find that their legs have gotten tired. Believe it or not, in Ueno there’s a unique cafe that can help to ease your aching feet. This is the Momi no Yu Cafe, a cafe where one can eat while enjoying a foot bath known as an ashi-yu.
Read also: 10 Places to Visit in Ueno
What is an Ashi-yu?
A hot spring-like foot bath, where one puts their feet into hot water, is known as an ashi-yu in Japanese. Even without placing your entire body into a bathtub, just by submerging your feet into an ashi-yu the circulation of blood in your body will improve and you’ll get so warm in fact that you’ll gradually begin to sweat! The ease of not having to undress yet being able to warm up your body is the distinguishing feature of an ashi-yu.
Unlike hot tubs and hot springs in other countries, in Japan you enter a hot spring naked. Because others will see you naked, without a doubt there are many visitors to Japan who don’t want to enter a hot spring. With an ashi-yu, there isn’t such a need to worry.
By enjoying an ashi-yu you can easily experience the atmosphere and fantastic effect on the body that the hot spring has, which is why these unique baths are quite popular among the Japanese.
Read also: Japanese Encyclopedia: Ashiyu (Foot Bath)
Now Let’s Give the Ashi-yu a Try!
This is what Momi no Yu in Ueno looks like. At your feet is the ashi-yu, which stretches the length of the seats on the 1st floor. The charge for using the ashi-yu depends on how long you’ve used it. When we visited, we tried out the 45 minute ashi-yu course for 1080 yen, which included herbal tea.
**At Momi no Yu, the hot water used doesn’t come from an underground spring, rather water that has been purified using mineral stones is used, meaning that this is an artificially made hot spring.
When entering this cafe you must first take off your shoes. After doing so you’re given a bag. You place your shoes in this bag and bring them with you to your seat.
All of the chairs in this cafe open up, so you can place your shoes and other personal belongings inside. For those of you who may be wearing stockings or tights, you can take them off in the changing room. For those of you who may also be wearing long pants there’s no need to worry, you can rent a pair of shorts and wear them while using the ashi-yu.
Before soaking your feet in the hot water be sure to clean your feet first.
After placing your feet in the hot water, it's time to enjoy yourself as you drink some herb tea. You can of course also order other drinks and even food for an additional charge. There are even power outlets at each of the seats so you can charge your mobile devices.
Don’t forget that you’re also able to receive a 5-minute massage. Because your feet are being warmed up in the hot water, the act of having the stiffness taken out of your shoulders will help to improve the blood flow throughout your body.
From 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on the weekdays you can have lunch here. For 1620 yen you can enjoy 60 minutes of relaxation in the ashi-yu while also enjoying food and drink such as Sri Lankan style curry, herb tea, and a dessert.
A Light Meal
This is homemade plum chazuke (boiled rice mixed with tea) for 540 yen. Here, you can enjoy chazuke topped with a type of pickled plum known as umeboshi. Including curry and fried rice, all of the dishes that contain rice use genmai or brown rice. Genmai has more firmness than white rice and can be quite filling.
This dessert is tofu ice cream for 324 yen. The only ingredients used are tofu, soy milk, and cocoa, making it a rather simple desert. The ingredients may be simple though, but is a thick desert with a rich taste.
For Those of You Who’d like a Longer Massage
On the 2nd floor of this cafe there’s an area where they offer a type of massage that's even more authentic. For those of you who’d like to have the stiffness thoroughly taken out of your body, why not have a massage before or after enjoying the ashi-yu?
** The prices for massages that shown here are from the time when the sales tax was 5%. The sales tax now (2015) is 8%, so these prices will be slightly different.
Other than in Ueno, this cafe also has locations set up in Roppongi, Shibuya, Shinjuku and other areas of Tokyo. By all means, visit the ashi-yu cafe Momi no Yu.