Spas and Onsens
One of the best cultural experiences you can have in Japan is the onsen. Lucky for us that Toyama has plenty of beautiful ones! Below are some of the best ones, but you can find a lot more online or from locals and other JETs.
Oh, and before you get naked in public, make sure you know what to do and what to expect there. The average price of an onsen visit is about 1000-1200円 and you usually you pay for the onsen at a vending machine up front (staff can help you choose the right button if you’re unsure). Towel rentals usually cost a little extra. You can read up all about the onsen here (http://www.onsenjapan.net/onsenbasics.php), but the most important point is to shower and clean yourself before you get in the bath. Shampoo and soap are frequently provided.
Note: Those with tatoos run a slight risk of being turned away or kicked out of an onsen. If you’re unsure about you tatoo, just ask at the front desk if you can still use the onsen. Many ALTs with tatoos have used onsens across Japan with little to no trouble at all.
1. Thalassopia, Namerikawa City
This is a nice spa right next to the firefly squid museum in Namerikawa. They have a smallish swimming pool with little places that massage you with water pressure. The water is deep-sea water and is supposed to be good for your skin. You can also enjoy a massage but it is quite expensive and you must make a reservation in advance. The cost to use the deep sea water pool is 850 yen and you must wear a bathing suit and swimming cap.
2. Unazuki Onsen, Kurobe City
This is probably the most famous onsen towns in Toyama. You can enjoy the spectacular sights of the Kurobe Gorge and then relax in any of the various onsen. Just get off the train at Unazuki and you are there!
3. Sakuragaike Kua Garden, Johana
There is a fantastic spa in Johana. It has a small swimming area and several pools with different types of massage jets including an outdoor Jacuzzi surrounded by mountains. It costs 1,500 yen and for that you can stay in as long as you like and use the hot baths. You have to wear swimwear and a swimming cap in the spa (bring your own) but obviously not in the hot baths.
The draw-back is that it is not very near to Johana station, so you really need a car. To drive there, first drive to Johana but don’t go right into the centre, and then follow signs for Gokayama. At some point signs for Sakuragaike (the lake next to the spa) start appearing and you should then follow these signs. The spa is in a hotel (huge white building) and you can’t miss it if you follow the signs for the lake! Tel. 0763-62-8181
4. Ogawa Onsen, Asahi
This co-ed, outside onsen in Asahi is famous among the Niikawa region JETs. It is not only beautiful but the water is supposed to be good for fertility.
5. Amaharashi Heights, Fushiki
Just past Fushiki is Amaharashi Heights where you can see the Tateyama Mountain Range set against the sea. You can reserve a tatami room, eat a Japanese meal, and enjoy the onsen for about 4000-5000 yen per person.
6. Waen, Shogawa
Located just below Shogawa dam in Shogawa-machi is Waen. The large rotemburo (outside baths) are spacious, hot and beautiful. This onsen costs 1300 yen before 5pm and only 600 yen after.
7. Yuraku, Shogawa Valley
Half way up the Shogawa Valley in Taira Village above a small lake, is Yuraku onsen. Just follow Route 156 from Shogawa and you will see signs to the left. It is an excellent place to enjoy the changing seasons. It also serves delicious soba. It costs 600 yen to use only the bath (no an overnight stay) and is open till 9pm. They are closed on Wednesdays. Tel: 0763-66-2005
Other suggested onsens: Kosieinenkin; Toyokenko Land; Kureha Heights; Omaki onsen in Shogawa; Yamada Onsen; Himi Miami Hotel Onsen; Uno Miko in Kamiichi. Also ask the JETs in your area about their favorite onsens, as this is only a very brief list!