Japanese No.1 Carbonated Onsen "Shichirida Onsen" and Freezing Open-air Bath "Akagawa Onsen"
We stayed at "Nagayu Onsen" in Oita, and now are heading towards Aso on Bungo Highway. Although it was raining from the dawn, it almost stopped at the time of the check out. Yet, the peaks of the mountains in our direction are covered by dark and low clouds. It can be raining again soon.
Not running that much from Nagayu Onsen, we noticed that there was a sign, saying "Soda Onsen," along Bungo Highway.
Shichirida Onsen, which has higher content of carbon dioxide than the famous Nagayu Onsen
Proceeding in accordance with the sign, there was a day-spa facility making a large sign of Onsen on a hill.
Here is an Onsen resort, called Shichirida Onsen. But we could find few inns and Ryokan other than the day-spa facility, called "Shichirida Onsen Museum." In fact, however, the carbonate content of Shichirida Onsen is fur higher than the one of Nagayu Onsen, which is the nationwide famous Onsen resort.
While going down from Shichirida Onsen Museum, there was a hut built with concrete in a residential area, which we could not tell that was a Onsen facility. There were large characters written with white paint, saying "Soda Pop Onsen."
However, a security buzzer began beeping when we stood in front of the building. The entrance door was locked. We wondered how to get inside...
There was just a person passing by. So we asked her. She told me that if we pay the fee at the previous day-spa Onsen, they will give us duplicate key for the entrance.
Shichirida Onsen's Carbonated spring, which could be dangerous if we take it in a wrong way
My buddy drove back to Shichirida Onsen Musem by a bike and got a key.
The bathroom of Soda Pop Onsen is separated depending on the gender. When I entered the women's bath, the small bathtub was full, which was rectangle and just enough space for about six people. As some people got out when I entered the dressing room, I may have not be able to take a bath because it was full if I had come a little later.
There is no photo of the bath this time. The image below is sited from Shichirida Onsen Museum website .
The bathtub is made by digging a hole in the floor of the bathroom. The water surface around has a structure in which carbon dioxide gas is filled without any space to go out. For this reason, there was a warning sign, saying "If you stay for a long time while facing up on the water, you could die."
All people in the bathtub were closing their eyes and taking the bath silently. The facility looked like a public bath at a village. Yet, everyone could be all tourists?
The water was a little cold than normal warm water. Unlike the dark water of Nagayu Onsen, there was no turbidity at all. Air bubbles tightly covered the hairs of my skin. It really looked like taking a bath in carbonated beverages. This is just like an image when I think about upon hearing, Soda Pop Onsen.
As my buddy told me that he was getting out from the bath tab for men, I also got out after a while.
Once out of the building, he was already out and smoking. The male bath tab was crowded than the female on. So he decided to go out earlier, reluctantly. There was a poster, saying not to talk in the bath tab, because there were people to get relaxed. That reminded me, in spite of the crowd at the male bath tab, there were not speech nor people's sign.
We went to Shichirida Onsen Museum again to return the key. There was a water supply plant in front of the building, where we could drink Onsen water for free.
By the way, there were various signs, such as Konoha-no-Yu, Shitayu, Shitanyu, and so on. Shitayu (Shitanyu) was the Soda Pop Onsen, which we used and Konoha-no-Yu was Shichirida Onsen museum, I think. But there was not detailed explanation.
Welcome by a lot of animals! Cold Open-Air Bath "Akagawaso"
Then we left Shichirida Onsen and head towards Aso again on Bungo Highway. Although it stopped rain once, the weather changed to a rainy one, repeating drizzle rain and stop.
While running a mountain path, suddenly we came out a place like a rambling ranch. There were signs of "Kuju Kogen" and some buildings like a pension.
The next destination was Akagawa Onsen in Kuju Kogen. It was a small Onsen resort with only one Onsen Ryokan, named "Akagawaso." Depending on guide signs, we deviated to a mountain road and ran by bikes for about 5 minutes.
We could see a sign with Akagawa Onsen at the entrance of the mountain road. Although the roadway was further followed, there were many signs, saying "No cars anymore other than staying guests."
There was no way, so we parked the bikes and started to walk. We could not see any building at all. How much did we have to walk? After walking with anxiety, it took only 2 to 3 minutes from the parking. The road to the inn was just winding.
From a parking in front of Akagawaso, we saw a waterfall in the back. Akagawa Onsen is famous because waterfall can be seen. Was that the waterfall?
Onsen water at Akagawa Onsen can also be drunk. Some climbers were drowing Onsen water into PET bottles.
Oh, a popular Onsen with its expected turbidity hot water. The water is transparent when just being gushed. Yet, there are white crystals of sulfur around, which is ingredients of the Onsen.
When we went to the entrance of the inn to take the bath, there were lots of rabbits in piles of pet gauges. There were also signs, which says "1000 yen for a rabbit." Why were they selling rabbits such a place? Has pet rabbits been increased? Or were they hares?
When we headed to the front door through the front of the rabbits, there was a white big dog by the side of the gauge like being buried. It looked like an Akita dog with long hair. It seems to be significantly old.
In addition, on top of a short shelf right near by the entrance, there was a large aquarium with trouts. They may be for eating.
Freezing open-air bath directly using cold source without heating
We payed 500 yen per adult at a reception and headed to a bathroom. The bath room was divided in gender. There were a mother and a child, and an elderly lady at the women bathroom.
There were two bathtubs in the bathroom. And I could see an open-air bath in the back. First, I tried to get in the bathtub closer to the dressing room ...
It's too cold!!
It was not even lukewarm water. It was almost as cold as fresh water. Since the Onsen water at the drinking fountain spot next to the building was also cold, the temperature of the original water of Akagawa Onsen must be low. This bathtub must be an original water bath, directly using original water without boiling. The other bathtub was filled with boiled water to a suitable temperature. So after getting warm there, I got out from a door and went to the open-air bath, where I could see a waterfall.
On the back of a big rock bath as big as for more than 10 people, a waterfall was falling down from a gap of trees. It was so beautiful like a painting. I immediately tried to take the bath and put my foot ...
It was cold water again!
Speaking of which, there was a sign, saying "Open-air bath directly using original water." Although I noticed it, I never imagined that they really use fresh water with the same temperature of fresh water without boiling.
It may have been great for yesterday, because it was hot like an early summer. So I may have felt well by taking water bath. Yet, it was chilling due to the rain for Golden Week. I could have been frozen if I took a water bath on such a day.
Surprisingly addictive, cold Onsen at Akagawaso
I gave up to take the open-air bath and returned to the indoor bath. In replacement, an elderly lady headed to the open-air bath. I expected that she would have come back right away, complaining too cold. On the contrary, after more than 5 minutes, she came back with a smile, saying "Oh, it was great." What!? Is the temperature good for regulars?
Since the expression of the lady looked so comfortable, I tried to take the open-air bath again.
No way. Why do I have to stand this cold to take a bath?
I soaked to the waist little by little, then finally decided! I soaked to the shoulder. Then, I noticed that I can unexpectedly take water, it's like taking a pool. Although it was cold, it was still Onsen. I felt geothermal energy transmitted to the core of the body.
It surely was comfortable!
I turned back to the indoor bath after a while. After getting warmed I returned to the open-air bath. I repeated this a couple of times. I was taking bath for the total of about one hour. Once I get used to it, a cold Onsen can be addiction. Yet, I wonder if anyone can take the open-air bath during winter?
When I got outside, the old dog, which was sleeping at a kennel, was weakly walking at the parking. He looked so old that he may not be able to see anything well.
The dog reached to the back of a visitor, who was unloading the luggage from a car at the entrance, and kept still. The visitor did not notice the dog at all. When he turned back, he was so surprised, saying "Woops!" Well, maybe that was the dog's way to greet.
Well, now, let's start towards Kurokawa Onsen again! Oh, that reminds me, I forgot to ask the name of the old dog.
···to be continued
Akagawa onsen Akagawa-so
Address： 4008-1 Kujūmachi Ōaza Kujū, Taketa-shi, Ōita-ken 878-0201
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