Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Family Bath: Enjoy your Private Hot Spring with your Family and Friends

Photo: kntrty on Flickr

Family Bath: Enjoy your Private Hot Spring with your Family and Friends


Kagoshima is well-known as a hub of hot spring resorts. In fact, Kagoshima prefecture ranks second in the number of hot springs in Japan. Numerous hot springs are clustered within the prefecture attracting visitors from home and abroad. Many people check-in at traditional Japanese Inns or other accommodations at or near hot spring resorts. However, the cost might be high and you need to stay overnight. Besides these accommodations, there are more casual and intimate ways to enjoy hot springs at reasonable prices. That’s what we call Kazokuburo, or Family Bath,  when you can reserve a bathroom for yourself. It is a good destination for day-trips if you are not reluctant to get naked in front of strangers.

Kareigawa onsen in Kirishima area

Kirishima area is one of the popular onsen resorts in Japan. This is might be because Kirishima is well-known as a first ever honeymoon destination for Ryoma Sakamoto, a famous historical figure, and his wife Oryo. Since the idea of going for a honeymoon was uncommon in Japan at the time, Ryoma’s visit to Kirishima as a first destination for their honeymoon made it very special. Many history buffs visit Kirishima around the year since there are many historical spots related to Ryoma which have enthralling scenic beauty.

Kirishima has an active volcanic mountain and it is surrounded by scenic ranges and highlands with volcanic lakes. Thanks to the volcanic mountains, Kirishima has abundant hot springs.

Introducing a unique type of bath unlike the traditional hot springs or onsens. As I mentioned earlier, Kazokuburo, or the family bath. Even as the name suggests “family bath”, it's use is not limited to families alone. Kazokuburo refers to a private bath where you can reserve a bathroom by the hours. Let me explain how to reserve a private hot spring.



First, you buy a ticket for a bathroom on the vending machine. The vending machine shows a wide variety of bathrooms in size and type. The ticket of the bathroom you chose will be exchanged for the key. An amenity including shampoo, hair rinse and body soap, as well as toys for children are provided at the reception. Generally speaking this service is rare, so it’s better to bring your own toiletries and towels with you before visiting a public bath.

The hallway lined with various bathrooms.

The hallway lined with various bathrooms.

The private bathroom consists of a changing space and a bathroom comprising of a buth-tub and a washing area. First thing first, fill the bath-tub with hot water because the bath tub is emptied each time a group of customers finish bathing. It means you can enjoy fresh hot spring water in the private bathroom all by yourself. Also you get an add-on, you need not get naked in front of strangers and relax in your personal space.

The hot water flows directly from the source of hot springs and is high in temparature.

But, you can adjust it to the comfortable temparature by mixing cold water. The hot spring in Kareigawa is has its source in the sodium bicarbonate saline spring. The spa boasts of the therapeutic effects of the hot spring. It beautifies the skin and heals it from cuts, burns and skin diseases. Enjoy the high quality transparent water  that makes your skin feel silky and rejuvenated.



You are given one hour to finish your bathing that is inclusive of washing, soaking, drying and changing. The changing room is well-equipped with an air conditioner and a hair dryer.

When you finish your given time, return the key to the reception.

Here in Japan there is an after bath ritual. Drinking Coffee Gyunyu!

It refers to a jar of coffee milk. Drinking coffee milk inside a public bath is customary for Japanese people a ritual practiced since the good old days. At Kareigawa-no-yu, there is a vending machine with a variety of soft drinks placed right next to the reception. I always choose a jar of coffee milk with my kids. This brings back some of my childhood memories when my parents took me to a public bath in my neighborhood.


Kareigawa onsen is just one example of an onset where you can reserve a private bathroom in Kagoshima. There are a other family bath with an easy access. Why don’t you find your favorite one and have a break during the trip?

Check the official website of Kareigawa-no-yu!

Access: About 20-minute drive from Kagoshima airport