Going north to 佐賀県 (SAGA Prefecture)
Finally it becomes the last day of my nomad-style 湯治 (TOUJI) trip in 九州 (KYUSHU). I moved north to 嬉野温泉 (URESHINO ONSEN) in 佐賀県 (SAGA Prefecture) all the way from 高千穂 (TAKACHIHO) in 宮崎県 (MIYAZAKI Prefecture).
九州 (KYUSHU) consists of only 7 prefectures, but KYUSHU literally means 9 states in Japanese. The reason why it’s named 9 states was because there used to be 9 states in the past;
- 筑前国 (CHIKUZEN NO KUNI): current 福岡県 (FUKUOKA Prefecture)
- 筑後国 (CHIKUGO NO KUNI): current 福岡県 (FUKUOKA Prefecture)
- 肥前国 (HIZEN NO KUNI): current 佐賀県 (SAGA Prefecture) and part of 長崎県 (NAGASAKI Prefecture)
- 肥後国 (HIGO NO KUNI): current 熊本県 (KUMAMOTO Prefecture)
- 豊前国 (BUZEN NO KUNI): part of current 大分県 (OITA Prefecture) and 福岡県 (FUKUOKA Prefecture)
- 豊後国 (BUNGO NO KUNI): current 大分県 (OITA Prefecture)
- 日向国 (HYUGA NO KUNI): current 宮崎県 (MIYAZAKI Prefecture) and part of 鹿児島県 (KAGOSHIMA Prefecture)
- 大隅国 (OSUMI NO KUNI): current 鹿児島県 (KAGOSHIMA Prefecture)
- 薩摩国 (SATSUMA NO KUNI): current 鹿児島県 (KAGOSHIMA Prefecture)
This time, I have traveled across 大分県 (OITA Prefecture), 熊本県 (KUMAMOTO Prefecture), 宮崎県 (MIYAZAKI Prefecture), and 佐賀県 (SAGA Prefecture). Since the public transportation system is well developed here in KYUSHU, you can travel around this big island very smoothly and comfortably. If you want to travel quickly, you might want to use JR (Japan Railway) or fly by airplane. However, this time I’ve decided to move all the way by bus because I found “SANQ Pass” which is free ride pass anywhere in KYSHU is really convenient and reasonable.
A pass across all KYUSHU and 下関 (SHIMONOSEKI in YAMAGUCHI Prefecture) for 4 days costs 14,000 yen. The same for 3 days costs 11,000 yen. A pass across northern part of KYUSHU for 3 days costs 9,000 yen, and the southern part of KYUSHU for 3 days costs 8,000 yen. You can buy any pass among these 4, and the bus lines are quite well covered. (As of November 2018)
Detailed information of “SANQ Pass”: https://www.sunqpass.jp/english/index.shtml
Initially I thought I would move to 福岡 (FUKUOKA) from 高千穂 (TAKACHIHO) once and then transfer to another bus for 嬉野 (URESHINO) at FUKUOKA. However, checking the bus route map in detail, it turned out to be that I didn’t need to move all the way to FUKUOKA and I could transfer to another bus to URESHINO much earlier. Reading the map in detail sometimes tells me better way and it makes me rather happy. Happily, I didn’t have to wait long for transferring, and it was really smooth. It was 230 kilometer long. If you move by car, it takes 4 hours, and my bus took me there for 5 hours including transferring.
Staying at 和多屋別荘 (WATAYA BESSO) in URESHINO ONSEN.
URESHINO is selected as one of “日本三大美肌の湯 (Japan’s 3 best ONSEN for beautiful skin)”. Its spring quality is weak alkaline sodium hydrogen-carbonate / chloride spring which contains plenty of moisturizing ingredient, and this thick spring makes your skin really smooth. It’s a magical spring. ONSEN is such a blessing of nature and land. Although the spring quality of ONSEN is classified into 10 kinds, actually nothing is exactly same even if it belongs to the same kind, as it is the natural mineral water from mountain and forest. Also, even the ONSEN flowing from the same source is different day by day and time by time. We are receiving benefit of this natural spring from the land, thus when I always appreciate it when bathing in it.
Now, talking about WATAYA BESSO, this ONSEN hotel has long history. Since EDO Period, URESHINO ONSEN has been prospered as a post town, and this WATAYA BESSO was originated from an inn where 島津家 (SHIMAZU clan) of 薩摩藩 (SATSUMA Domain) had stayed on the way of their travel. This is why the family crest of SATSUMA Domain is used in the logo design of WATAYA BESSO.
Today, WATAYA BESSO has become a huge ONSEN hotel with 5 accommodation buildings in the extensive grounds of approx. 33,000 square meter along 嬉野川 (URESHINO River) which flows very slowly and peacefully. You can find modern arts exhibited here and there in the hotel, and it’s really comfortable space to stay. It’s such a noble hotel where even 昭和天皇 (Emperor Showa / Emperor Hirohito), 皇太子徳仁親王 (Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan), and 秋篠宮文仁親王 (Fumihito, Prince Akishino) stayed, but at the same time it’s such a broad-minded hotel where nomad-traveller like me can also stay.
When I reached here, it was already dark outside. Then I decided to see the illuminated hotel building. Lighting at night is really beautiful. Inside the hotel as well, chairs and 五色の布 (GOSHIKI NO NUNO / Cloth of 5 colors: In Buddhism, 5 colors indicates the spirit of Tathagata and Wisdom) are artistically decorated. Every inch of every space inside and outside of the hotel is well cared in detail, and there’s no space which has no meaning. Some blank spaces are intentionally in place. Whichever alley I walked made me feel nice, and didn’t interrupt the story. That’s how this hotel is. I’m not sure how much they intentionally did it, but I actually felt like that.
足湯 (ASHIYU / Foot bath) with very nice ambience is open till late at night. It operates as “Foot bath cafe” till 7:00 pm. It was after 8:00 pm when I came here, and it was really silent as even the sound of other guests stepping on foot bath was heard. It is really nice space and ambience.
In the morning, I walked around the hotel again. This is just like a huge museum! Even the outside landscape across the building makes entire space nice. Everything is well cared in detail. I felt really comfortable wherever I was.
I was given the free voucher for public bathes in URESHINO ONSEN from the hotel, and I decided to visit some of them after check-out. Today I will go back to Tokyo.
外湯 (Public bathes) in URESHINO
百年の湯 (HYAKUNEN NO YU)
The 1st public bath I visited was “百年の湯 (HYAKUNEN NO YU)” which means hot spring of one hundred years.
This facility is only for 日帰り入浴 (One day visit) and opens from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. Plenty of natural ONSEN is flowed into spacious bathtub and very relaxing. There are various bathrooms such as stone bath, cypress bath, and 5 family bathes which you can reserve for your private use. If you want to enjoy ONSEN privately with couples, family with kids, those who have tatoo, those who hesitate to be naked, these private bathes are very convenient. In addition to these various bathrooms, it also has restaurant, massage, rest area, gift shop and so on, and you can enjoy ONSEN for entire day comfortably.
Here I bought 湯豆腐 (YUDOFU) which is local specialty in URESHINO. TOFU boiled with ONSEN hot water is amazingly smooth and tasty. YUDOFU in URESHINO is very famous across Japan, and you can try it at gift shops and restaurants anywhere in this town.
しいばの湯 (SHIIBA NO YU) at 椎葉山荘 (SHIIBA SANSO)
The 2nd public bath I visited was “しいばの湯 (SHIIBA NO YU)” at 椎葉山荘 (SHIIBA SANSO).
At 10 minutes distance by car from the central district of URESHINO ONSEN, SHIIBA SANSO is located along 椎葉川 (SHIIBA River) and surrounded by peaceful rice terrace and 椎葉山 (SHIIBA Mountain) which has full of deep green.
しいばの湯 (SHIIBA NO YU) at this hotel is a bath for one day visitor, and since it’s located alongside SHIIBA River, you can enjoy the nice view of surrounded nature with bathing in it.
Although I kept on bathing in various ONSEN through this trip and my body is completely clean, 掛け湯 (KAKEYU / pouring hot water on yourself before entering bathtub) is something you need to do every time as a manner. Pour the hot water from your feet where is the farthest from your heart, then cleanse your hands, then stomach, and then your back. It’s a manner to start sharing the blessing of nature with the others. And at the same time, it’s also the excercise for your body to adapt the hot water smoothly. In fact, the biggest number of cause of death is accident while bathing, and it’s 4 times more than traffic accident. It’s an unique thing in this hot spring heaven, but we have to avoid this risk and that’s why KAKEYU is really important. Although even many Japanese people have already forgot about this important action but I will keep recommending KAKEYU.
After KAKEYU, I bathed in this ONSEN very calmly. The sound of murmuring of the stream and swaying of tree leaves peacefully came into my ears. My body is felt lighter as if floating. It’s a thick spring.
A river crab came closer to bathtub. A bird is aiming fish in the river. A fluttering leave bathes in ONSEN with me.
ONSEN has nothing else. I am naked. I don’t have iPhone with me. I don’t have watch with me neither. Although I have nothing, why does time flow densely and why am I so fulfilled?
Although I’m already naked, I feel like I have taken off one more clothes when I step out of ONSEN. That may be because I might have worn something inside me.
The 3rd public bath I visited was “和楽園 (WARAKUEN)”.
In addition to YUDOFU, 嬉野茶 (URESHINO CHA / URESHINO Tea) is also one of the representing local specialty in URESHINO. Tea leaves are planted in the area around URESHINO and NAGASAKI which is next to URESHINO, and it tastes closer to Chinese green tea. In WARAKUEN, there is an ONSEN which utilizes this URESHINO Tea.
An outdoor bath named “Tea Bath” is a huge stone bathtub where natural hot spring is poured from huge teapot-shaped faucet. Tea bags are placed aside and it’s good to rub it in the bathtub. It was my first time to boil tea in ONSEN, and I felt like I myself also became tea. These tea bags smell really nice. ONSEN with tea was something I felt like drinking. This outdoor bath is inside the beautiful garden, and I really enjoyed the benefit of ONSEN with my whole body. On my way back, I saw vast tea plantation. KYUSHU is really rich.
Reviewing my nomad-style TOUJI trip in KYUSHU
The reason why I visited URESHINO in the end was because I wanted to finish with ONSEN which has moisturizing effect.
Through the nomad-style TOUJI trip in KYUSHU this time, I was able to reset my stomach which had been irritated in daily life. By drinking ONSEN which has good effect to stomach and eating local healthy food little by little, I was able to regain the healthy life.
In addition, by making this trip nomad-style (keep moving one place to another place), I had to keep going to bed early and getting up early and that made me able to get the rhythm of good lifestyle back. Also, I had enough time to walk around.
Bathing in ONSEN gives me similar feeling with taking off something, releasing something, and leaving something. It is just like molting.
If you have time, I would like you to try this detox trip with ONSEN.
Read articles about this trip:
- Introduction: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU
- Day 1: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 1
- Day 2: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 2
- Day 3: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 3
- Day 4: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 4
- Day 5-1: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 5 – vol 1
- Day 5-2: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 5 – vol 2
- Day 6: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 6