I love looking up different and exotic places on other blogs and internet sites about places to visit in Japan. We usually hear a lot about festivals and events in bigger cities and more well known areas from the naval base, but I love to find those little hidden gems to explore as well, and Japan has a lot of them! You just have to find the right resources or people to show you some of these gems, or just hope you stumble upon them yourself! Recently, I stumbled upon a blog written by a Japanese woman born in Kyushu, who actually married an American man and moved to Michigan!!!
She wrote about a small hot spring spa found in the town of Ureshino, about 30-40 minutes from Sasebo. Ureshino is one of the many renowned hot springs in Kyushu, Japan. It is said to be one of the top three hot springs in Japan that makes your skin beautiful! So out of all the MANY onsens scattered throughout Kyushu alone, why did I find this blog of particular interest? Well, this Ureshino spa has artistic porcelain bathtubs that you bathe in! And that’s not all… not only do you bathe in a porcelain cup full of hot spring water but you have the option to bathe in a tea bath as well!
This bathhouse is attached to an inn called Seiunso (静雲荘(sei-un-so): meaning Quiet Clouds Inn). Sei-un-so has two buildings: one is the regular inn and the other is this bathhouse. This bathhouse only has five rooms and each room has either two porcelain bathtubs or the combination of a porcelain bathtub and a wooden bathtub. The bathhouse is named by the inn owners “Shiawase no Yu (幸せの湯: Bathhouse of Happiness).
The porcelain bathtubs are Arita-yaki (有田焼: Arita porcelain). The inn owners had them made by a kiln in Arita city, which is not far from Ureshino. Porcelain made by kilns in Arita city is called Arita-yaki.
These are the photos of the five rooms that you can choose from. The names of the two rooms with two porcelain bathtubs in each are Peony and Wisteria. The names of the three rooms with a porcelain bathtub and a conventional-style rectangle wooden bathtub are Tea Flowers, Camellia, and Cherry Blossom.
The explanation on the board goes: “Our popular porcelain bathtubs have been featured in many TV shows. 2,600 yen for 2 adults, 3,200 yen for 3 adults, 300 yen for child (age 3 – 12). Rent for one hour. For 30 minutes increment, 800 yen (2 adults), 1,100 yen (3 adults), 150 yen (child). Towels and bath towels included.”
In the hallway where the bathrooms are there is a sign saying “Our porcelain bathtubs are specially made to order. They cost one million yen each”. One million yen x 7 bathtubs = 7 million yen in total. That’s quite a cost but a very creative and unique idea for an investment!
We rented the Peony room with two porcelain bathtubs for one hour for 2,600 yen. It was worth it!
Actually only one of the two bathtubs was peony-designed. The other tub was bamboo tree-designed. They’re very pretty!
They do drain the water completely every time after use by customers- they seemed very clean! The water coming from the faucets is, of course, hot spring water. There were knobs for controlling the temperature of the hot spring water (hot/cold) and to turn on/off the water.
You can also try a tea bath, a Japanese sake bath, and/or a soy milk bath! If you want to try any of them, you tell the owner when you arrive at the front desk. They sell tea bags, sake, and soy milk for use at the front desk!
We purchased a tea bag. I wanted to try a tea bath, because Ureshino is famous for good tea as well. I read that the tea bags sold there probably contain 100% Ureshino tea leaves but I’m not 100% sure! Also, according to the lady’s blog, she says that even though you can enjoy tea and sake baths in other hot springs, the owner told her that the inn is the only place in Japan that offers soy milk baths! I did not know how to ask for a soy milk bath, so I didn’t get to try it. But I do hope to go back again and try it!
You just drop one tea bag into the porcelain cup and the water begins to turn more yellow after a little while. It looks just like tea in a gigantic tea cup!
This is an open-air bathhouse, so we had a gorgeous view of the connecting mini-Japanese garden. It was also snowing that day in Ureshino, so we had an added bonus of getting to watch the snow fall from the sky! Very relaxing!
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!