Translated by Jelena Kitamura
Feel The Spirit Of The Past At Takegawara Onsen In Beppu
Written by fujii
At Takegawara Onsen in Beppu, located 10 minutes from Beppu Station, you can experience both the indoor bathing and a special sand bath. We will introduce its remarkable architecture of the past, as well as some manners characteristic of this city.
Beppu, Where Onsen Are a Part of Everyday Life
Today, we head to Beppu, one of Japan’s most prominent onsen (hot spring) resorts. Where ever you look, you’ll be awed by clouds of steam gushing out of countless hot springs – it is one-of-a-kind sight, the one you won’t be able to forget or discover so easily elsewhere.
As the onsen culture is deeply rooted in Beppu, it is considered one of the usual daily pleasures, but, there is another great trait of this city that mustn’t be forgotten – there are numerous open (public) baths with cheap pricing, open to both the locals and the visitors from afar.
Takegawara Onsen is one such place, an open bath near Beppu Station whose existence might be the very symbol of this culture in Beppu.
Takegawara Onsen: A Retro-Looking Pleasure District Open Bath, Opened in 1879
Photo by Maro Miyakawa
Takegawara Onsen is located in the city’s pleasure district, amidst many snack bars and izakaya restaurants, which is found about a ten minute walk from the East Exit of Beppu Station. With the street lit up with flashy pink, violet, and other colorful decorative illuminations, it is almost as if the time has stopped only at the Takegawara Onsen, leaving its traditional looks intact over the years.
It is a remarkable two-story building made of heavy and thick wood, and is quite large, considering it is a traditional structure – the facility spreads over an astounding 906 square meters, and the facility itself 712 square meters.
The term “takegawara” refers to the kawara (roof tiles) made of take (bamboo). It was constructed in 1879, and as at the time the roof was made out of bamboo, the onsen came to be known as “Takegawara Onsen”. In 1902 they changed the roof using the wooden tiles, and the building you can see today was remodeled in 1938. During the rebuilding, they added an elegant decorative roof called karahafu (a type of a cusped gable) at the front of the facility and refurbished the interior of the facility as well.
The bathrooms are situated on the first floor, while the second floor used to serve as a relaxing and lodging space for the so-called toji-visitors (*1). However, the second floor is no longer opened for the visitors and is used only occasionally as a community center for the locals.
*1 Toji: visiting the onsen facility for health reasons (visitors with some medical conditions).