Tokyo’s Top Five Onsen Style Spas
After several months of oddly warm winter, the temperatures have finally cooled off, which for many of us means the urge to take a relaxing soak in a steaming bath. Luckily, Japan is famous for its uniquely designed onsen (natural hot springs) and spa resorts that combine the best of naturally heated, mineral rich water that our bodies may be crying out for during the dry winter. If you’re in a need of a little respite from the cold or you simply want a quick rejuvenation fix but don’t have the time or the finances to travel, warm up with this selection of five amazing and reasonably priced spas in Tokyo that will both heat and heal you this winter.
Who would’ve thought that bathing in the middle of Shinjuku’s Kabukicho could be this refreshing! Opened last summer, this six-floor bathhouse complex is one of the biggest in Tokyo and includes a vast range of saunas, baths, spas and other luxury health treatments for both the ladies and the gents. Though not a genuine onsen, Thermae Yu transports its hot water daily from Shizuoka prefecture, an area known for its rich mineral hot springs. The complex is also equipped with a hot stone bath, an aroma sauna (for women only) and a relaxation salon offering various body treatments. A lounge area, a bar, a café and two restaurants serving Japanese and ethnic cuisine are also available, making it perfect for a full-day excursion with friends or family. Thermae Yu is also known for its Cry Detox nights, a recent trend aiming to achieve the ultimate reset after a good cry over a sad movie. As Sylvia Plath once said, “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”
Address: 1-1-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 11 a.m.–9 a.m.
Admission: ¥2,364 (includes towel and indoor robe; additional ¥1,836 if visiting after 1 a.m.)
Tokyo Somei Onsen Sakura
With its splendid Japanese-style garden reminiscent of ancient Kyoto, a streaming waterfall, and a large indoor mural with sakura art, it’s difficult to imagine that Tokyo Somei Onsen Sakura is located in the middle of Sugamo’s bustling residential and shopping area. This natural hot spring resort features a total of six baths for women, five for men, a bedrock bath, and saunas. There is also an aesthetic salon, a Korean-style scrub parlor and even a hair boutique. A must-try at this facility are the open-air baths, including the “silky” rotenburo, which uses ultrasonic waves for an extra bit of warmth, and an additional Japanese-style bath only for women. Once you’ve finished bathing, step into the cozy furnished lounge, which looks like an old-style living room. There, you can spend an extra hour reading a book or enjoying a beer—or bottled kohi gyunyu (milk coffee) in traditional Japanese style.
Address: 5-4-24 Komagome, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.
Admission: ¥1,296. Rental towels and robes available from ¥108.
Maenohara Onsen Saya no Yudokoro
Popular among many as one of the “most relaxing hot springs in Tokyo” for its quiet and nostalgic vibe, Saya no Yudokoro is a vast natural onsen facility built in 2005 on the site of an abandoned traditional Showa-era wooden building. Beautifully designed inside as well, this onsen’s greatest appeal lies in its Zen garden, a large natural masterpiece produced by the renowned Japanese garden designer Motomi Oguchi. Visitors can enjoy its beauty as they have a meal at the spa’s restaurant. In addition to the main open-air Saya no Yu hot spring, which bares a greenish brown color due to a high sodium chloride content, the facility also features 14 additional baths of all sizes and kinds, including a ganbanyoku (hot stone bath) for an extra charge. Saya no Yudokoro’s baths are said to serve as a remedy for neuralgia, chronic rheumatism and poor circulation, among other health concerns. Located just eight minutes from Shimura-sakaue station on the Mita line, this is a wonderful urban escape at a reasonable price.
Address: 3-41-1 Maeno-cho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 10 a.m.–1 a.m.
Admission: ¥830 on weekdays; ¥1,030 on weekends. Rental towels and robes available from ¥310.
Ishino Onsen Roppongi ViVi
You won’t find a variety of natural hot springs in Ishino Onsen, but you’re sure to enjoy its vast array of bedrock baths that will warm and relax your body equally as well as a natural onsen. Hugely popular in Japan in recent years, these “dry baths” have you lie down on heated bedrocks that use infrared rays to penetrate the body and are absorbed by cells, resulting in a number of reactions, including improved blood circulation, enhanced skin, faster metabolism and a perfect detox. In addition to ganbanyoku, ViVi also offers large baths for both women and men, saunas, Korean body scrubs, a gym, facial and body massages, and even a capsule hotel (for an additional charge). Towels, bathrobes (to be worn when using the bedrock baths) and other amenities are also available, making it convenient even if you’re dropping by after work. Open 24 hours, this spa is perfect for anyone who feels uncomfortable getting naked among strangers.
Address: 4F Roj Building, 5-5-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 24 hours
Admission: ¥2,571 (¥3,600 for entry between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.)
Nagomi no Yu
A natural onsen walking distance from JR Ogikubo station, Nagomi no Yu features an impressive variety of baths and saunas, including the popular—and rich in natural sodium chloride—hot spring water sourced directly from Musashino. There is also a healing spa with Finnish-style bedrock and hot-air saunas, a popular carbonated bath, a mist and minus ion sauna, and a carbonated water shower just for the ladies (an additional ¥300). Admission includes a face and body towel and an indoor robe.
Address: 1-10-10 Kamiogi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 10 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Admission: ¥2,000 (additional ¥1,350 if visiting after 1 a.m.)