Sun Olive Onsen is a rare gem, tucked away in the countryside of the Seto Inland Sea. Sitting upon a hill overlooking a bay at the base of a scenic mountain range, with a view fit for kings, bathers can relax in the hot waters of an ancient hot spring. Sun Olive Onsen is a bath house worthy of quite a hefty price tag, and yet it is modestly priced and open to the public.
The kanji characters for Shodo Island literally mean ‘small bean’, a throwback to the island’s production of azuki beans. However, the island has come to be known as ‘Olive Island’ ever since farmers here managed to be the first in Japan to successfully produce a crop of olives, due to a climate similar to that of islands in the Mediterranean. In the middle of the island’s more populated southern half, lies Olive Park. Built to commemorate the cultivation of olives, Olive Park can easily be seen as the heart of the island. Within the grounds is a building in Mediterranean-style dedicated to Shodo’s sister island, Milos. Milos itself donated a Greek windmill that stands nearby. The park also boasts olive groves, flowers beds, and outdoor sculpture art. There are benches and gazebos where one can sit and enjoy the view of the sea. The hot spring bath is located near the center of the park.
Sun Olive Onsen rests on the foothills of the mountains. Mineral rich water with a basic pH flows from deep within the earth. The south-facing wall is completely made of windows so bathers can gaze serenely at the beautiful rolling coastline. There is a cold bath, hot baths, a medicinal bath, a walking bath, an outdoor bath, a deep bath with powerful jets, a steam sauna, an infrared sauna and a room where water falls from the ceiling and massages your shoulders. The shower area has shampoo, hair tonic, and soap for free. The locker room has oils, tonics, hair dryers, and hair combs that guests can use freely as well. All of this is provided for a very modest entrance fee. A large and small bath towel can be rented for ¥100. All you need to do is show up and everything is provided to give you a relaxing bathing experience.
The building sports a restaurant, a small gym, and an exhibition space for art and other installations. The parking lot has plenty of space available and there are also auxiliary parking lots so there is no worry about finding a space.
Even a small, basic bath house would be worth visiting with this view. Somehow, this bath house also manages to be top-notch, with plenty of useful amenities and mineral-rich waters.
A trip to Sun Olive Onsen would combine wonderfully with the luxury accommodation found at the Resort Hotel Olivean Shodoshima.