Sun Olive Onsen is a rare gem, tucked away into the countryside of the Seto Inland Sea. Sitting upon a hill overlooking a bay at the base of a scenic mountain range, 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 but 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’. This has been since farmers here managed to be the first in Japan to successfully produce a crop of olives, due to the island's climate being similar to that of the Mediterranean. This Olive Park is located within the middle of the island’s more populated southern half. Built to commemorate the cultivation of olives, this Park can easily be seen as the heart of the island. Within these park's grounds is a Mediterranean-style building dedicated to Shodo’s sister island, Milos, which donated a Greek windmill that stands nearby. This park also boasts an olive grove, some flowers beds and several pieces of 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 some mountains, which contain mineral rich water. The south-facing wall is completely made of windows so bathers can gaze serenely out at the beautiful rolling coastline. There is a cold bath, some 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 problem in finding an empty 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 Olive in Shodoshima.