Photo By: 大分帰省中
Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Oita
Population
1,221,128

Takegawara Onsen

Get buried in warm black sand in this Meiji-era onsen — that's tattoo friendly!

There is no shortage of onsen (hot spring) options in Beppu, Oita Prefecture. However, only Takegawara Onsen offers both a retro atmosphere, the typical hot spring and a sand bath experience all in one place!

You’ll reach the onsen by taking a 10-minute stroll along the lively streets from Beppu station, near Beppu Bay. This city is an onsen haven, with many of the baths being open to visitors with tattoos, including Takegawara.

30 Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Japan

Takegawara Onsen stands out for its Meiji-era architecture. The facility was originally founded in 1879 with the iconic roof built using karahafu, a wave-shaped roof unique to traditional Japanese architecture. While the rooftop was initially made of bamboo, it was replaced with tile in 1938 — hence the name takegawara (bamboo tile). The wood-based design of the onsen gives off a cozy and welcoming feel. Step inside to the spacious rest area.

Sand bath

If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to lay on your back and be buried alive, don’t miss the sand baths. Don’t worry, the staff members, called sunakake-san, only bury you up to the neck. In about 10 minutes, you’ll be so relaxed by the hot sand you won’t even think about the fact that you can’t move. The sand is heated by nearby thermal springs and will soothe any stiff joints and muscles.

Both male and female visitors use the same sand bath facility, but you’ll be wearing a yukata (summer kimono) during the process. After you’re done, wash the sand away in a bath near the sand pits.

Getting into the onsen

takegawara onsen bath

Photo by: bus257 Old skool.

The regular bath is located on the right side of the first floor, opposite the sand bath. There is a small changing area before you head down a set of stairs leading to the bath. Although there are no proper showering facilities, you are still supposed to rinse off by scooping water out of the onsen with a bucket – don’t be that foreigner who doesn’t follow the unspoken rules. The baths at Takegawara are kept at about 43 degrees Celsius — which is quite hot even for Japanese people — so tread lightly. Cold water is also available from a tap if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. Try to keep your body at ease while enjoying the calming effect!

You have to appreciate the history of Takegawara Onsen as you gaze at high ceilings with wooden beams and cream-colored tiles that have turned brown through the test of time. Oita’s locals have come and gone through the centuries, but the building remains, strong and resilient as ever.

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Trivia

30 Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Japan

No matter the size of your tattoo, ink is no problem.

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Things To Know

Hours and fees

The regular baths are open from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and the sand bath is available from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. A reservation is required to use the sand baths; please visit the onsen in person during the day to make the reservation as they don’t take phone nor internet reservations. The regular baths are closed on the third Wednesday in December while the sand bath is closed on the third Wednesday each month. Admission fees are ¥100 for the regular bath and ¥1,030 for the sand bath. Extra fees for towels and shampoo.

How To Get There

Address

16-23 Motomachi, Beppu, Ōita Prefecture 874-0000, Japan

By train

There is no parking lot available at the facility so parking near the JR Beppu Station or taking the train is the easiest option.

  • By train:
    • From Tokyo, take the Tokkaido-sanyo shinkansen to Kokura station (4 hours 44 minutes), then an 1 hour 19-minute Sonic-Nichirin express train to Beppu station.
    • From Fukuoka, take the Sonic-Nichirin express train for 1 hour and 51 minutes directly to Beppu station.
    • From Oita station, take either the Sonic-Nichirin express train or JR Nippou line to Beppu station.

Where To Stay

Nogami Honkan
  • Kitahama 1-12-1 Beppu-Shi, Oita 874-0920
  • 8.1/10
  • 0.1 km
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Hotel New Tsuruta
  • Kitahama 1-14-15 Beppu-Shi, Oita 874-0920
  • 7.8/10
  • 0.1 km
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Calm house Beppumotomachi
  • Motomachi 4-2 Beppu-Shi, Oita 874-0944
  • 8.8/10
  • 0.2 km
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Hotel Aile
  • Kitahama 2-14-35 Beppu-Shi, Oita 874-0920
  • 8.2/10
  • 0.2 km
Powered by Booking.com