Hakone's Yunessun

A hot springs amusement park for all ages

By Sandra Isaka    - 3 min read

Yunessun, in Hakone, is billed as an 'Onsen Theme Park' and it does not disappoint. Accessible by car or mass transportation, it can easily be visited in a day. The park has two zones: the Yunessun Spa Resort zone and the 'Mori-no-Yu'. The Yunessun Spa Resort is a swimsuit zone where men, women, and children can enjoy the facilities together. This zone is then divided into two areas, Yunessun and Yutopia. The Yunessun area is mostly indoors, with a ceiling painted like the sky. This is a 'European' area which contains a main pool area full of massage jets, an 'ancient Roman bath', a Turkish haman, and more. Floating in the 'Dead Sea Bath' is particularly enjoyable, and it is also fun to stick your feet in the pool full of 'doctor fish'. These fish enjoy eating dead skin cells off of your body! Doing so is free, but they hope that you will purchase a photo afterward. The outside section of Yunessun contains water slides, a cave with a waterfall, and a children's jungle gym. This is definitely the most popular area for kids.

While families gravitate toward the Yunessun section, adults will spend most of their time in Yutopia. Except for an indoor lap pool, everything is outdoors. A collection of 10 interesting onsen pools are set into a forested mountain slope. Each has a theme, for example, coffee, waterfalls, wine, Japanese sake, green tea, charcoal... If you are there at the right time, you can watch them dump in the actual coffee, wine, etc.

It is easy to spend an entire day in the facility. In addition to the water areas, there are about ten restaurants/cafes, resting areas, an arcade, a large souvenir shop, and a number of massage/treatment facilities.

The admission system is very convenient. Everyone is given a wristband that is used as a key to a locker and it is a 'charge card'. Use the wristband to purchase anything you want, and pay the total on your way out. Towels and lounge wear are supplied upon arrival and bathing suits are also available if you forget your own. The locker room is equipped with showers, soap, shampoo, hair dryers, etc.

The Mori-no-Yu, or 'Forest spring' zone has a completely separate entrance fee. It is a traditional Japanese style onsen, divided by gender, and sans bathing suit. There are a number of lovely baths, both indoor and outdoor.

The only real draw back to Yunessun are the weekend/holiday crowds. If you can't visit on a weekday, I recommend arriving in the early evening, when everyone else is on their way out. Or, if you stay at a nearby hotel, enter at 9am to have the place to yourself for about two hours. An important thing to remember is that you shouldn't pay full price. Their website often posts discounts and coupons can be found all over the Hakone area (in restaurants, at the information center). If you are able to read Japanese, there are often day package plans that include lunch or dinner. Other online packages include round trip train tickets, family discounts, and more.

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Sandra Isaka

Sandra Isaka @sandra.isaka

As an intercultural consultant & Japan travel specialist with 20+ years in Japan, I love sharing my favorite places with others.

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