Onsen Chofu

Yumori no Sato: Tokyo’s Black Water Onsen

Japanese
湯守の里
Where?
Chofu
Type
Natural onsen
What's it got?
Open-air baths
Sauna
Hot stone spa
Massage
Admission
¥1,200 with a towel set for adults (¥800 if you’re there for less than an hour)
Hours
10:00-22:00 all year round
Address
2-12-2 Jindaiji-Motomachi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-0017
Directions
Access is from either the North Exit of Chofu Station or the South Exit of Musashi-Sakai Station. There is a complimentary bus which departs on the hour, every hour from Chofu Station (with a return service at 50 minutes past the hour), and at 30 minutes past the hour from Musashi-Sakai Station (return service at 10 minutes past the hour). The hours of operation are 10:00-20:00.
 

Yumori no Sato is a day onsen located in the beautiful Jindai-ji area and is the perfect example that you don’t need to travel outside Tokyo for the traditional onsen experience. But what makes Yumori no Sato somewhere that people want to return to time and time again is its sense of homeliness.

From the outside the onsen looks like a backstreet storage depot, but step inside and the dark wooden entrance and warm lighting immediately put you at ease. Customers are given a bar code which is used for the many services (bedrock bath, massage service, etc.), with payment made at the reception when you leave. Not having to fish around in pockets for loose coins for the vending machine or lockers seems like a small thing, but its one of the minor touches that helps the onsen set itself apart from the other day onsen in the Tokyo area.

The small downstairs rest area with a footspa in the background
The restaurant has Japanese and Western-style seating
Small gift shops selling Japanese snacks and onsen-related goods

And then there’s the natural hot spring water: coffee-coloured in the palm of the hand, but from above the bath an inky jet-black. This type of water is actually quite common in the Tokyo area, but for first-timers it certainly makes for a memorable experience.

The bathing area consists of four main tubs (one inside, three outside) and a Goemon—a small pot named after the infamous outlaw Ishikawa Goemon who was boiled alive in one for his crimes! The temperature varies by bath, with one outside tub in the corner deliberately set to a lower temperature so you can soak for longer. There are a couple of benches outside on which you can rest and cool your body down. And there’s always the cold water tub if you really want to shock your senses back to life from their onsen-induced slumber.

The main tub outside has a Jacuzzi section and a small “Electric Cave” on the face of the stone wall at the far end of the bath—if you crouch and wade inside you will feel a pulsating frizzle on your skin! The other feature that separates Yumori no Sato from the rest is the sauna: it is heated by a traditional salt hearth called a shiogama which punctures the air with a crisp scent and certainly helps clear the airways.

Once you’ve relaxed in the baths there is a spacious rest area upstairs and a restaurant serving superb Japanese food at reasonable prices. If an hour or so in the baths followed by a beer don’t put you at ease then nothing will.

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