While Ellie was visiting back in June we went to an onsen I'd never visited before. We chose Utsukushi no Yu because Ellie wanted to be sure to go to one that had outdoor baths.
Utsukushi no Yu is a little bit of a trek from central Tokyo, but the facilities and proximity to the station are great. Admission is 900 yen for adults and 700 yen for children on weekdays. On weekends the price is 300 yen higher but you also get access to their swimming pool. There is an additional charge for towel rentals.
On the women's side there are three indoor baths, one with water jet massage stations, and three outdoor baths as well. From the outside baths you can also access the sauna. I obviously couldn't take pictures inside the onsen, but you can see pictures on their website. We went on a rainy day and I was worried that might mean the outdoor baths were closed, but that wasn't the case. It was actually really pretty to be outside in a rocky pool of hot water with a gentle rain falling.
If you visit Utsukushi no Yu it's about a three minute walk from the station. (Conveniently with a Mr. Donut in-between. Ellie and I definitely stopped for donuts on our way home.) There's no English signage for the onsen, but there is a sign for NAF Wellness Club. Turn into the entrance, ignore the lockers that are immediately visible and walk up the stairs, at the top you'll see the doors to Utsukushi no Yu. Once inside you'll need to leave your shoes in a shoe locker immediately to the right. Lockers cost a 100 yen refundable deposit.
Once you've dropped off your shoes you buy admission and towel rental tickets from a vending machine, which you then take to the counter. The vending machine is only in Japanese, but even if you can't read Japanese you can figure it out. (I've labeled a picture below) The orange buttons in the upper left are for admission. This is where knowing the admission price comes in handy - you can just match the price to the ticket you should buy. The purple buttons are for towel rentals - 110 yen for a bath towel (レンタルバスタオル）and 60 yen for a face towel（レンタルフェイスタオル.) I recommend both towels, the bath towel for drying off afterwards, and the face towel for modesty while walking around.
After you've purchased your tickets, take them to the front desk. They'll take the key to your shoe locker and give you a key for a locker in the locker room as well as issuing your towels. Then it's time to get naked! Remember it's important to scrub down thoroughly before getting in the water, and that while you can carry your modesty towel around with you it needs to stay on your head or at the side of the pools while you're in the water, it's not supposed to be submerged. If you're looking for a full guide on how to use an onsen I highly recommend this video - I made sure Ellie watched it in preparation.
I thought Ellie was so brave to try an onsen! I wasn't nearly that brave when I was 17. I'm not sure if I've said this before, but as incredibly self-conscious as I can be about my body there is something really wonderful and healing about hanging out with a bunch of other naked people. Even as a curvy foreigner, by the end of the experience I always feel like bodies are just these great tools that let us live our lives instead of objects (often of disappointment) by which we should judge our self worth. So, if you're even considering going to an onsen - do it! It's an amazing experience.
|The front of Utsukushi no Yu|
|The entrance to the onsen is up these stairs|
Hours: 9:30 am - Midnight
Location: 2-3-45 Takaido-nishi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
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