Onsen or hot spring is one of the best attractions in Japan. Your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan would be incomplete without a unique hot spring experience. But did you ever know that in Japan, some hot springs can literally make your skin and body healthy?
Ureshino, a quiet city in Saga Prefecture, has unique hot springs that beautify the skin and cure body illnesses. As a matter of fact, Ureshino is now one of Japan's three great spa towns for beautiful skin.
Ureshino Hot Spring Town has a long history of over 1300 years. A manuscript recorded at the “Hizen Fudoki” (Japanese old documents) written in 713 A.D. states that “there is a spring in the East that can cure people’s illnesses”, referring to the hot springs in Ureshino and Takeo in Saga Prefecture, east of Japan. The city prospered as a lodging site along the Nagasaki-Kaido Highway in the Edo period.
It is also said that the name “Ureshino” (City’s name) came from the old story of Empress Jingu who noted that her soldiers became reinvigorated after taking a hot bath in the Onsen (hot spring) on the return from battle. The Empress is said to have cried out, “Ureshii” or “How wonderful!” in English.
シーボルトの湯 (Siebold no Yu) Public Onsen
Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German doctor visited Ureshino in 1826. He is said to have been the first to analyze the hot spring waters in Ureshino.
How does the water at Ureshino Onsen beautify skin and cure body illnesses?
The waters at the Onsens are rich in sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride. These elements soften hardened skin and bring back moisture. Temperature of the water from the hot springs also reaches up to 85-95°C, so it makes the water rich in all the elements of the earth.
On the other hand, if you drink the spring waters, they can effectively invigorate the function of your digestive system, liver, and other organs. So, many restaurants in Ureshino town use spring waters for cooking, especially the famous Ureshino tofu. No wonder why local folks say that the hot springs in Ureshino City can make us beautiful inside and out.
Ureshino Onsen Tofu
Restaurants actually use hot spring water to cook local foods. Tofu is one of the best dishes in the city. Hot spring water is used to cook this delightful local dish. The alkaline in the water makes the bean curd in the tofu soft and mellow when heated in a ceramic pot. Traditionally, tofu is served with condiments such as green onion, ginger, and sesame paste to taste.
Other Attractions in Ureshino City : Green Tea
Ureshino City is not only famous for its skin-beautifying Onsen, but also for its delicious green tea. Green Tea plantations spread around the city, making Urishino city one of the biggest tea producers in Japan. You can visit some green tea plantations in the area. And if you want to sip a cup of delicious tea, you can have it anytime; most hotels in the city serve locally produced green tea. Besides, to give you a much greener experience, some hotels offer one-of-a-kind green tea bath.
Not so far away from the main street, just across the Urishino River, there’s a ninja-themed park for kids and kids-at-heart visitors. At the park, visitors can toss throwing stars, shoot wooden arrows and get lost in tunnels and maze houses. The park looks very old from the outside, but it doesn’t matter for Ninjitsu itself is an old art of warfare, and a person who uses Ninjitsu is called a Ninja.
The park’s main attraction is the Chibikko Ninja Academy for children, a two-hour class where children ages 4-7 dress up and learn what it takes to become a ninja. Kids can also watch ninja performances and learn how to throw shuriken (ninja throwing stars) and shoot blow darts. In the end, the children receive a ninja certificate. Visitors, both kids, and adults, can also take pictures of themselves while on a ninja costume inside the park.
Public footbath facilities are established at the center of Ureshino Hot Spring Town. The most popular is "Siebold's Footbath" on the main street. You can enjoy a casual hot spring bath by just soaking your feet in hot water.
Scenic view of the rice fields and tea plantations
Souvenir and Gift Shops
You need not worry about language; signage on the streets and menu books at the restaurants are usually written both in Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English. The City also provides free Wi-fi.
Come and spend your holiday in Ureshino City, where you can soak in a skin rejuvenating hot spring baths, dine on delicious Japanese cuisines and taste healthy green teas. People in this city say that once you try a spa in Ureshino city, you will not want to leave.
Address: Ureshino-machi, Ureshino city, Saga 843-0301, Japan
By JR Train
• Fukuoka Airport (Subway, 5 mins.) → JR Hakata Station → JR Takeo-Onsen (JR Limited Express, about 60 mins.) → Takeo (JR Bus, about 30 mins.) → Ureshino Onsen Town
By Expressway Bus:
• Fukuoka Airport (Domestic Flight Shuttle Bus) → International Terminal ("Kyushugo" expressway bus) → Ureshino Interchange (about 70 mins)