I decided to visit this hot spring bath for the first time since I saw the unique building 4 months ago. Yakuseki no Yu Kaisen—is the name of the hot spring bath or onsen located in Isawa, Fuefuki, Yamanashi—about 2 kilometers from the nearest JR station; Isawa Onsen Station, by the Kofu By-pass.
Don’t worry about the distance, this onsen has a shuttle car which always comes to pick up guests from Isawa Onsen Station. The shuttle always arrives and departs every hour from the stations so you have to be patient if you miss the shuttle and wait for the next one. If you prefer sightseeing, you can walk from Isawa Onsen-Station, it takes about 20 minutes, allowing you to see the town of Isawa and the attractions along the way to the onsen. There is a Takeda Shingen statue–bigger than the one in Kofu Station–and a small shrine just by the street that you can visit in the middle on the path to the onsen.
There are no private rooms. All of the guests sleep in the same room, and it is not just a room but a big hall, a large space where you can see everyone's sleeping faces when it's time to go to bed.
Before checking in, I would like to give you a few tips to enjoy this hot spring. First, no need to bring any home belongings such clothes, amenities, and towels. They provide you everything you need to enjoy your hot spring bath, from towels, even clothes. Second, please bring any power bank or additional batteries for your smartphone or cell phone. Although this building has a lot of electricity plugs, they prohibit you for using it personally such as phone charging. Last, if you bring any precious belongings or gift/souvenirs, you must save them in the deposit box near the receptionist or just simply ask them to watch it over for you. Please remember these three tips.
Let’s move to checking in and looking into the building. First, when you arrived, you have to put your shoes into a room which full of shoe lockers in the lobby. Put your shoes in any locker you want, as long as it is empty and ready to use, take the key after locking it, and go to the front receptionist to change your shoe locker key for a bag locker key. There is no check-in limited time, or check out limited time. The price counted as 24 hours from the time you arrive and stay.
After you gave your shoe locker key to the receptionist, they will give you a locker key for your belongings, and you have to pay the ¥1500 entrance fee. After you pay, they will give you a bag of two face towels, one body towel, and one set of clothes that you can use inside the building. It is a small locker for about one meter high and 50 centimeters inside but big enought to hold the clothes you came in with.
If you wanted to feel more comfortable, change clothes into the t-shirt the staff had given you, and you could enjoy any other facilities as much as you want.
- Hot Spring Bath
It is a separate bath for women and men. They have a few small indoor baths and a few outdoor baths (rotenburo). You could use it anytime you want. It is always open and ready to use. There is also a sauna room with a timer and television inside. So don’t worry for spending too much time or feel bored inside the sauna room. You can be entertained by the television, and able to check the passing time.
Always clean yourself first before entering the hot bath. The staffs provide you with shampoo, conditioner, body soap, toothbrush, disposable razors, and shower caps. Also there are many other amenities such combs, cotton buds, face lotions, tissues and cotton puffs.
- Dry Sauna
If you get too wrinkly inside the bath, you can use the sauna in the big hall. It is a big, dry space, which you can enjoy at a very high temperature, but you can spend your time in the sauna by relaxing and letting your skin dry. Also they have a hot rock room, so you can feel the sensations for sleeping on the rock by the sauna temperature.
- Manga Corner
Do you need escape from daily routine inside your smartphone, but afraid of being bored by not having it while you enjoy this hot spring? Don’t worry; they have many manga’s or Japanese comics, and a few magazines that you can read with inside the building. You can read them while you enjoy your time in Dry Sauna Hall, or before you sleep. Just don’t bring it to the wet areas.
They provide all you can eat breakfast in the morning for just ¥900. You just have to bring your locker key because there’s a barcode in it to the front receptionist so they could take your barcode and use it as a breakfast coupon. The breakfast starts from 07:00 am ~ 08:30 am, you can still enjoy other meals in lunch or dinner with ala carte menus, and you pay at the front desk when you leave the onsen. There is also a dessert restaurant, so whenever you feel like eating something sweet, you can stop here. Not only sweets, you can also ask for healthy sweets like fruit or yogurt to the restaurant server, because all the milk they use is from Northern Yamanashi, which is famous enough for their dairy product.
- Resting space
They have two separated spaces to rest in after you leave the onsens. First is the big hall where you can sleep with everyone. They would provide their guests with the sleeping mattress and pillow when the sleeping time has come (it’s around 10 or 11 p.m.) or there is more private room to sleep in different areas. One is called ‘kachou fuugetsu’ room, where you can sleep soundly without any voices and more private. I stayed here; there are two types of sleeping spaces in this room, comfortable chairs—some of them with their own private television, so you can enjoy sleeping in front of a TV, and mattresses with less lights. The sleeping mattress is gender separated, while the sleeping chairs are not.
- Kids Room
This room provides for children only, and they have staff for handling them while the adults having some private times in the hot baths for themselves.
It has been a habit or custom, for Japanese to buy souvenirs or gifts to their colleagues or family after you enjoy your trip. They have several sweet treats such as biscuits or cookies, and wine—an authentic souvenir from Yamanashi which its main products are the fruits, especially grapes. You can find many exclusive Yamanashi souvenirs here.
Then when you have enjoyed your stay, you could dress back into your own clothes, take all of your belongings—make sure you have nothing left behind, and give your locker key back to the receptionist, and they will check your transactions from the barcode, and you pay the transactions you made in the front receptionist. Now your stay is completed and hopefully you feel more refreshed. There is also a shuttle back to Isawa Onsen Stations, so you can simply wait for the departure and you can continue your journey to the other place.