On a rainy day in Hakone, what better to do than visit one of the many beautiful onsen in the quiet, peaceful mountains?
A quick search online (using my wifi router from WIFI-HIRE.COM) pulled up the recommended ones nearby and I opted for Tenzan Onsen, which I found to be more than just a natural hot spring bath. Having a wifi router is so helpful! It allowed me to travel in all comfort without worrying to get lost.
An easy bus ride from Hakone-Yumoto Station, Tenzan Onsen is a complex which includes multiple-bath onsens, tree-ringed courtyards, a restaurant, café, gift shop, and tatami areas for resting (which I took to mean napping).
The whole building is done up in traditional Japanese style, which means lots of dark wood, sliding doors and tatami, and a slightly confusing network of passages.
Tickets are bought from a vending machine outside the main entrance, and once inside you pop your shoes into a little locker, hand in your ticket, buy a towel if you need to, then head towards the bath. The changing room is very spacious, with a wall of large lockers, toilets and a bench with mirrors and hair dryers.
From there, you can step into the shower room, which is open to the outside area where all the rotomburo (outdoor baths) are located. There are plenty of showers, and they provide shampoo, conditioner and Tenzan’s specialty soap so you can get squeaky clean.
There are plenty of different baths to choose from, too. There is a large, painfully hot one, a multi level one, one that goes into a cave, one built out of cedar, and one at a perfect temperature with milky colored water which I hear is very good for your skin. The baths are set in amongst trees and vines, which is the perfect setting for a relaxing soak.
When you’ve soaked your fingers into little prunes, you can dry off and dress, then head to one of the relaxation areas where you can sit and think, read or nap. I always want a nap when I’m done with onsen, so this seemed like the perfect addition to me.
Then, if you fancy a hot drink, cake or even a meal you can stop at the restaurant on the second floor, or the café behind the gift shop.
Access is by bus from Hakone-Yumoto; take either the K-line bus or the ¥100 shuttle and get off at Okuyumoto-Iriguchi.
Entrance is ¥1200 for adults, which seems a little steep, but I think it’s absolutely worth it for the absolute relaxed bliss you will feel at the end.