In late May, our reporter managed to gain access to the famed Yurari Onsen in Yamanashi Prefecture and managed to try out a great majority of the pools! Boasting over 12 different types of baths within the facility, it also provides customers with public and private baths, mainly for private family enjoyment. There is also a shop that sells local souvenirs and a restaurant that serves local cuisine. To access Yurari Onsen from Kawaguchiko Station, take a bus bound for Motosuko. Tickets can be purchased at the concierge over at the station. The platform number for the bus service will be printed on the tickets. Along the way, there are many signs from the establishment complete with distance markers, making it easy for one to know which stop to get down from. Get down at Fuji Midori-no Kyukamura-mae bus stop and the onsen should be a short walk away from the main road!
Upon climbing the flight of stairs, do take off your footwear and store them in any of the empty lockers with keys still in the keyhole (it’s free-of-charge) and bring the key along with you to the cashier. Do note that the onsen charges different rates according to your period of visit. During the weekdays, the adult fare is 1,300円 while on the weekends, it is 1,500円.
These prices include bath and head towel rental. Upon payment, exchange the locker key for your footwear with another key for the locker to store your clothes and the towels. Guests have to keep the strapped key on their wrists while in the onsen. Regular onsen rules apply here so do make sure that you undress yourself (no underwear allowed) and go for a good shower before actually stepping into the pools. Photography is also not allowed in the bathing areas.
The onsen itself is huge, with each gender’s section spanning over two levels! On the upper floor, you will find the indoor bath which is usually crowded with grandparents and their grandchildren. However, the main highlight of the second floor is undoubtedly the Panorama Bath. With an open air experience and a stunning view of Fuji-san, this bath is what Yurari Onsen is most famous for. The waters here are generally warm at 42 degrees on average. Experiencing the cool mountain air while having the lower half of my body soaked in the warm water made for a unique experience! Upon entering the area with the indoor bath, there is a spiral staircase that will take guests down to the first floor.
The first floor contains a greater variety of baths, each uniquely themed! Among the more interesting baths is the Cavern Baths. Be warned, illumination is sparse there and there might be a need to crouch a bit while entering the bath due to the low height of the entrance. With the limited illumination and the unique surroundings (the cavern comes complete with stalagmites as part of the ambience!), this bath is perfect for those who want to experience a traditional Japanese bath without much awkwardness.
Opposite the Cavern Bath is the Steam Bath, which is also sparsely illuminated. Guests with sensitive eyes should note that sometimes, the mist can irritate the eyes. In this room. there are benches for guests to relax and enjoy the soothing benefits of a steam bath. Like the entrance to the Cavern Bath, taller guests may need to crouch to enter the Steam Bath.
Outside of the first floor lobby, there are three outdoor baths, each special in their own right as well! The most eye-catching is the main outdoor bath, which the establishment also calls the 霊峰露天風呂 (Reihou Rotenburo lit. Sacred Outdoor Bath). Do note that while the waters look tempting for a swim, swimming in the onsen is forbidden. From this reporter’s experience, the pool was shallow enough for her to be able to sit on the floor with the area above the shoulders above water level. For this reporter though, the water in the outdoor bath felt warmer compared to those on the second storey but this sensation may vary among guests. Guests may also take notice of a tiny pavilion near the main outdoor bath.
This pavilion actually houses the Aroma Bath! This reporter took a dip in it and was able to detect a hint of lavender from the water although the aroma did not come off as strong as she expected it to be. Nonetheless, the pavilion it was hidden in did give some privacy! While the aroma was not strong, the waters still managed to bring about the benefits of aromatherapy – possibly due to the infusion of various oils in the water. This reporter came out of the bath feeling more relaxed!
For the last outdoor bath on the ground level, there is a rather small pool. In fact, that was the smallest pool that Yurari Onsen has in its bath line-up. Many guests were seen taking a dip in the pool and rinsing their mouths nearby with the water pouring out from the fountain. Upon putting her feet in the water, this reporter found the water to be extremely cold. The water in this bath is actually mineral water from the nearby springs! It is recommended that users go for this pool after experimenting with the different hot baths or use this pool first before trying out the hot baths.
While there was a sauna at the back part of the ground level, the Carbonate Bath was the main highlight for this reporter. Do note that if you intend to use other baths after coming out from this one, it is recommended to rinse yourself one more time before proceeding to use the others. The carbonate properties in this bath not only detoxifies and aids in fatigue recovery, it also adds whole new levels of fun! The bubbles that cling onto one’s skin are admittedly tempting to play with but do take note that there are other people sharing the bath.
Guests will also be glad to know that the whole bathhouse is well-stocked with toiletries and grooming needs! After changing back into your regular clothes, the changing room provides guests with free, unused combs (Do remember to put your used combs in the correct basket though!), hairdryers and high-quality facial creams and moisturisers! In fact, guests fond of these free samples may approach the concierge to purchase the full-sized beauty products for home use. Shower rooms are also well-equipped with scented bodywash, eliminating the trouble needed to bring personal toiletries. All in all, travellers around Narusawa and Kawaguchiko should consider making a stop here! While this reporter did not have the opportunity to try out the restaurant or private bath due to time constraints, she is nonetheless happy to have experienced the novel baths offered here!
All photographs used in this article were taken by the reporter