An epically fox-blessed town.
Japanese public baths and onsen (natural hot spring baths) are famous for their serenity and health benefits, but the onsen in this town in Yamaguchi Prefecture are on another level.
A fox tale
There is an ancient legend that a white fox once came to the town seeking refuge after being wounded in the forest. It daintily dipped its wounded paw into the therapeutic waters of the local onsen, in an instant its paw was healed and the onsen was imbued with healing foxy magic. Now, people from all over Japan travel to the enchanted onsen to take advantage of its healing properties, and to honor the fox, a giant statue of it was erected outside the train station.
The town has really capitalized on the story of the fox and centred their entire local economy around it. Numerous onsen are available for tourists, as well as fox merchandise and food. Kitsune (fox) udon, a type of hot noodle dish named after a fox, is a local speciality, as are many other dishes that include tofu. According to Japanese folk law, foxes love tofu. You can buy tofu in the shape of foxes, meals centred around tofu and even delicious tofu desserts.
Foxy kimono time
If you don’t feel like soaking your entire body, there are six completely free foot baths dotted around the town. In the center of town at Yuda Onsen Welcome square you can enjoy these foot baths while dressed in traditional kimono. For only ¥200 you can rent a kimono, and relax in private garden with the opportunity to sample different types of coffee, sake and Japanese desserts.
Other foxy attractions
Yuda onsen is also home to some of Yamaguchi’s best museums that discuss Yamaguchi prefecture’s role in the Meiji Restoration. At the Impressive Ruiko-ji Temple you can enjoy the scenic peaceful atmosphere of a beautiful spiritual temple, and also learn about the development of the area in their museum section. Inside the museum are small recreations of over 50 five-storied pagodas that local tourists go crazy for. Just a stone’s throw away from the prefectural capital, Yamaguchi city, there is also plenty to do in the area.