Japan’s oldest hot springs! Three thousand years of relaxation at Dogo Onsen <Travel Diary of an American Exchange Student: Part 4>

Japan’s oldest hot springs! Three thousand years of relaxation at Dogo Onsen <Travel Diary of an American Exchange Student: Part 4>

Onsen (natural hot springs) are one of the things I love about living in Japan. So you can imagine my excitement when I made plans to visit a traditional onsen with 3,000 years of history – a history so rich in character it was the inspiration for the onsen featured in the Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away. These same hot springs were even granted a visit by Japan’s Emperor, which had a private bathing area created for his visit (you can visit the area in a tour). After a long day of action packed travel, I was looking forward to a nighttime dip in the mineral rich waters of Dogo Onsen.

As I made my way through the covered shopping district and found the entrance of the hot spring hall, I came upon a lively night scene. People enjoying a pleasant evening milled about in a wide variety of yukatas, blending nicely with the bright, richly colored banners of floral patterns that had been draped over the upper floors of the bathing hall. I moved through the photo takers and into the entrance. Upon collecting my admission ticket and towel, I navigated the maze like structure of the onsen, and made my way to the bathing pools. I could have stayed the whole night soaking. Emerging back upstairs in a yukata, the sound of drums and flutes and festivities wafted into my ears. A summer festival was happening right below. Tea and sweet dango (rice flour dumplings) added to the whole experience.






Profile
・Zachary Lazbasan (Zack)
・American
・Time in Japan: 3 Years
A 24-year-old from California in the United States, Zachary has spent three years as an Japanese exchange student. It was during his studies of international relations that he decided to attend university in Japan, realizing that overseas he would have more contact with different cultures and social values.


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