Since I decided to have a Tokyo-focused itinerary during my first visit to Japan, my options for onsens or natural hot springs were limited. It was a choice between an onsen theme park in Odaiba or a sento communal bath house inside metropolitan Tokyo. Obviously, I chose the theme park. Who wouldn’t want to escape the hustle and bustle of main Tokyo and soak in natural hot springs?
WHAT IS AN ONSEN?
The term Onsen itself means Japanese hot spring. Although nowadays, it is more often used to describe bathing facilities and inns built around hot springs.
Onsen waters are believed to have healing qualities and health benefits. Not only they help improve our mental health, but they also relax our muscles and help accelerate our metabolism. Furthermore, the natural minerals found in onsen water can be absorbed by our body. They are said to be good for fatigue, digestive issues, nerve and muscular pain, and bruising. To have a better understanding on how onsens can benefit health, please see the Japan Health and Research Institute website here.
OOEDO-ONSEN-MONOTAGARI: THE THEME PARK
Ooedo-Onsen-Monotagari is not just a mere bathing facility.
It is a fully-functioning spa facility with food stalls, souvenir shops and awesome massage centers. It houses 6 different type of baths where the water, drawn 1,400 meters underground, is rich in sodium and chlorine ions — both often considered to relieve joint pains and sore muscles. They even have accommodation facilities where guests can opt for an overnight stay so we can enjoy the park to our heart’s content.
I loved every minute I spent at Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari. Although the whole experience did cost me a little bit more than my intended budget for this trip (and to think I only went for a day trip to the park), I’d still say that it was worth every Japanese Yen I paid for!
I came with a friend and it was both our first time to visit an onsen in Japan. Upon our arrival, we were immediately asked to remove our shoes and place them into the shoe lockers near the entrance. We were then advised to go to the check-in area. After we registered, we were given wrist bracelets that have bar codes and locker keys attached to it. The staff explained to us that the bar code was for them to track of all the expenses for the services and goods we’ve consumed inside the park, while the key was for the lockers in the segregated changing rooms.
Next, we had to collect our Yukatas (Japanese traditional clothing or a summer Kimono) at the counter next to check-in area. We had the option to choose what design we would like to wear. For my first visit, I chose a pink yukata and a black obi belt. On my second visit (yes, we shamelessly went again to the park on our last day in Japan), I went for a lighter color and chose a white yukata with and matched it with a red obi belt.
The moment I got out from the changing room, I felt like I was transported back in time! All the guests were strolling barefoot in their casual summer kimonos through the recreated streets of the downtown section of old Edo. It was nostalgic.
There were food stalls and various carnival games to keep people entertained. There was also a ryokan style dining hall where you get to sit on a tatami mat and eat on a low wooden table frame. I haven’t even seen the rest of the park and I already was so in love with the place! I mean, who wouldn’t?
The foot spa outdoors was the first attraction we went to. The sun was shining bright that day, but since we visited the park during Spring time (Cherry Blossom season), it was still cold outside. So I had to wear this large orange coat on top of my yukata. When I saw the garden, I was welcomed by a 50-meter long foot bath surrounded by white and pink cherry blossom trees.
There were round cobble stones laid out on the ground for people to walk on too. A study was conducted and it revealed that people who often walked on this kind of surface displayed lower blood pressure readings and a significant improvement in overall physical and mental fitness than those who walked on regular surfaces. Awesome, right?
Anyway, there is a small fish spa nearby and it’s where you can have your dead skin eaten off your feet. Don’t worry these little ones won’t eat your real skin! Haha. It’s not scary at all. There weren’t a lot of people so my friend and I decided to go in for a quick soak. Our second stop was the massage center. We only got to try the upper body massage on our first visit since we were time-constricted (we had to catch the last train back to Tokyo because we didn’t get any accommodations at Ooedo). But on our second visit, we had more time to spare and we both got a full body massage and that lasted for 2 hours.
They don’t allow cameras inside the onsen specially the bathing area since nudity is involved. But here’s what you can expect:
*Picture taken from Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari website
HOW TO GET THERE
Ooedo-onsen Monogatari is located in Odaiba – the south eastern part of Tokyo. To get there, you must start your journey at any station of the JR Yamanote Line. Once you have done that, make your stop at Shimbashi station and transfer to Yurikamome Line then get off at Telecom Center for a 3-minute walk to the onsen. You might get confused when transferring lines at Shimbashi station, but don’t worry, there’s a lot of signs in English that will lead you to the right train.
People with tattoos are strictly not allowed to enter the onsen theme park.
Swimsuits and undergarments are forbidden to be worn in any of the baths.
Children under the age of 4 will be exempted from the entrance fee.
Toiletries are provided. Yes, that includes skin care. 🙂
OOEDO-ONSEN-MONOGATARI HOT SPRINGS
Address: Japan, 〒135-0064 Tokyo, Koto, 青海2-6-3
Phone: +81 3-5500-1126 | Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m