Treat yourself and take a dip in a traditional Japanese hot spring in Saga PrefectureBy Elizabeth Sok
Tucked away in the southwestern part of Saga Prefecture, Ureshino is a small town known for its onsen (hot springs) and green tea. Famed for the waters that run beneath its surface and harnessed into the town’s hot springs, Ureshino has long been synonymous with high-quality onsen.
Alongside Kitsuregawa in Tochigi Prefecture and Hinokamiso Onsen Okuizumi-cho in Shimane Prefecture, Ureshino has earned a reputation as one of the top three hot spring areas for beautifying your skin due to the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its alkaline waters. According to many visitors, these waters will leave your skin feeling silky smooth and rejuvenated.
The town has many onsens to choose from including ones for pay-per-use and others for overnight stay only, as well as a variety of outdoor and indoor hot springs.
One of the most famous onsen is Siebold-No-Yu which is named after a German doctor and scientist who visited the area in the early 19th century. While researching Japanese flora, Siebold took a break in Ureshino and sampled the onsen, taking note of the incredible waters in which he soaked.
Today, in an old-fashioned European-style building topped with a distinctive red roof, visitors can experience for themselves what the doctor recognized nearly two centuries earlier. At ¥400 for adults and ¥200 for children, this is one onsen that shouldn’t be missed!
Chagokoro no Yado Warakuen
For a unique onsen experience that marries two of Ureshino’s most famous things, check out the green tea bath at Chagokoro no Yado Warakuen. In this open-air hot spring, visitors are able to soak in Ureshino tea-infused waters for a memorable dip.
While tofu is a common fixture in Japanese cuisine and can be found in many dishes, including miso soup, nabe and more, Ureshino has its own unique take: yudofu.
Served in a ceramic bowl, yudofu is tofu boiled in hot spring water from Ureshino. The high alkaline content of the region’s water and the tofu’s basic components come together to produce a soft and silky texture and a cloudy appearance. Although it can be eaten as is, it’s also common to top yudofu with grated ginger and green onions.
For a well-known offering, pay a visit to the centrally located Souan Yokocho restaurant which is allegedly the birthplace of the famous dish.