Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Nagayu Onsen in Oita - Enjoy Silver Bubbles and Carbonated Springs!
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
Nagayu Onsen in Taketa, Oita prefecture, is the place of origin of a famous bath salt in Japan. In this article, we share our experience of staying at Daimaru Ryokan and its famous carbonated spring onsen!
Japan and hot springs are inseparable. Many visitors from overseas come to Japan to enjoy the numerous onsen (hot springs) in the country. However, as there are so many hot springs in Japan, it might be a little hard to decide just which one to go to.
Today, we'll be introducing Nagayu Onsen, a carbonated spring onsen (*1). It's said to be a hot spring that is good for the skin and to also improve blood circulation.
*1： A hot spring that contains carbon dioxide in its water.
Photo courtesy of: Taketa City Department for Tourism
Nagayu Onsen is located in Taketa, Oita, at the foot of the Kuju Mountain Range. Generally, hot springs will lose their carbonic gas when set to a temperature that humans can bathe in.
Nagayu Onsen is a rare hot spring that maintains a high carbon dioxide concentration, despite its temperature. The onsen feels so good, and also has good effects on the body, that a Japanese bath salt manufacturer created a product based on it. This bath salt is called "Kikiyu", and can be purchased at drug stores and other shops in Japan.
Bathing OK, Drinking OK!
The carbonated spring onsen will lose its carbon dioxide if the temperature is too high, so it is set at a lower temperature than other hot springs. However, the carbon dioxide gas absorbed by your body will widen your blood vessels and improve blood circulation, warming up your body quite efficiently.
Hot water containing carbon dioxide gas will make your stomach more active, and it's said that drinking it also has good effects for those suffering from gastroenteritis and constipation. Nagayu Onsen includes a facility called the "insenjo", where you can drink the onsen water.
If you drink too much at once you might get an upset stomach, so you should drink just about a cup of the water. It won't be as fuzzy as a normal soda, but it has its own unique flavor.
If you're going to stay at Nagayu Onsen, how about staying at Daimaru Ryokan? It's a long-established ryokan with a history spanning over 100 years. We recommend this place if you want to enjoy the carbonated spring onsen as well as the local cuisine.
Every room boasts a view of the Seri River flowing nearby. It's a great place to relax in the arms of nature.
Daimaru Ryokan is especially popular for its carbonated spring onsen that you can enjoy at the large public bath, which includes a rotemburo, as well as family baths.
Here, visitors can enjoy the onsen hot springs while admiring the starry sky at night or the beautiful sunrise and shining river in the morning.
One of the best parts of traveling to an onsen resort is the food that is offered at the ryokan. Daimaru Ryokan not only uses local ingredients, but also locally made tableware, called Taketayaki.
This is grilled Bungogyu branded cattle from Oita prefecture. It's bite-sized, but the flavor of the perfectly medium-cooked meat will spread and fill your mouth.
Taketa is also a city with abundant, clean water. This is broiled enoha (*2) from the clear streams of Taketa. It's a river fish, but because it grows in clean water it has no fishy odor. It makes for a delicious dish.
*2： The river fish known as ‘yamame’ (river masu salmon) is called ‘enoha’ in some areas of Kyushu.
The dishes are a feast for the eyes, not to mention the taste buds. The subtle spices bring out the best of the local ingredients.
Go to Ramune Onsenkan for Carbonated Springs
There are several facilities and ryokan where you can experience carbonated springs at Nagayu Onsen. The most bubbly one can be found in a separate building of Daimaru Ryokan, called the Ramune Onsenkan. The carbon dioxide concentration is so high that you can literally see the water fizzing. When you're inside the bath, your whole body will be covered in silver bubbles.
Other than rotemburo and indoor baths, this facility offers family baths that can be reserved for more than one person. You can enjoy the carbonated spring together with your family. The water is also set at a relatively low temperature, so you can enjoy the fizzy hot spring and relax to your heart's content.
The Ramune Onsenkan also has a facility where you can drink the onsen water. It's said that the closer to the source that you drink it, the better. As the water can lose its freshness, it's not a good idea to take some home with you, so you should drink and enjoy it here. If you really feel the need to take home some of this cool water though, it can be purchased in bottles at the store.
Try the Ganiyu
If you want to enjoy Nagayu Onsen even more, how about trying out this unique hot spring? The Ganiyu is located by the Seri River. "Gani" is the word for "kani" (crab) in this region.
It's a public bath created by a local, based on a legend about crabs that has been passed down the generations in this area. This is a very open onsen, and the dressing room is just a little something under a bridge. Also, this onsen is free!
If you feel embarrassed bathing here in mid-daylight, we recommend coming here in the early morning. You can enjoy an open bathing experience while watching the sunrise.
If you are visiting Oita prefecture, we recommend stopping by Nagayu Onsen and refreshing your body with the fizzy carbonated spring onsen! You'll never forget the unique bathing experience you had here.