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Japan is often called the “onsen (hot spring) nation,” and Okayama Prefecture holds abundant source of hot springs.
On an exceptionally sunny day, my friend and I visited Yubara Onsen, home of many hot springs. Yubara Onsen is located in Maniwa City, and known as the “Three Hot Springs of Mimasaka” along with Okutsu, and Yunogo Onsen. Furthermore, there are fifteen other hot spring sources in that area.
Its most famous onsen called Sunayu (sand bath) is listed in the “Western Japan Champion,” a list that ranks the best outdoor onsen in Japan. Sunayu is the only mixed bathing facility that you can bathe for free in the western Japan.
At the Sunayu, there are three types of baths; Bijin no yu (hot spring of beauty), Kodakara no yu (hot spring of fertility), and Choju no yu (hot spring of longevity). The water temperature is about 48 to 60 °C. The spring quality is hypotonic alkaline, which is effective in treating nerve pain, fatigue, and excellent for skincare.
Though generally viewed as a shy group of people, Japanese are very open in the scenes of bathing culture. Onsen is said to have a relaxing and calming effect to the body. But to foreigners like us, going to an outdoor mixed bathing onsen takes quite a bit of courage.
The Sunayu at Yubara Onsen is one of the most prominent hot springs in Japan. Apparently, each inn in the district owns its own hot spring source. When you are exhausted, I think soaking in a natural hot spring is the best feeling in the world. When you want to unwind, I highly recommend going to an onsen.
Yubara Onsen is a hometown of traditional Japanese onsen. When you visit Okayama, stop by Yubara to experience the Japanese onsen culture yourself.
Train: 35 minutes by Maniwa Community Bus for Yubara Onsen or Hirusen Kogen to Yubara Onsen from Chugoku Katsuyama Station on the JR Kishin Line
Car: 10 minutes from Yubara Interchange on the Yonago Expressway