Before coming to Japan, there were a few things I was hoping to experience. One of those items on my wish list was to visit a traditional hot spring. Today I ticked that dream off in the greatest way possible at Biwa no Yu in Asama Onsen.
Tucked away in a leafy corner of the little hillside village of Asama Onsen, this spa is as pretty as it is relaxing. Quiet woods surround the beautifully preserved, four hundred year old building, so that whilst you are there you truly feel as if you are fully immersed in nature and disconnected from all external stresses. What’s more, the first lord of Matsumoto Castle, Ishikawa, founded this spa, and used to bathe there himself! For many years it was kept as a private entity of the palace, and is still today maintained by one of Lord Ishikawa’s descendants. Even if it were not such an incredible experience, the spa would be worth a visit for its historical interest alone!
Biwa no Yu is easily accessible from Matsumoto City by bus or bicycle, and is a brilliant way to while away a lazy afternoon. For a very reasonable price you can make use of both their two indoor and outdoor bathhouse facilities. Beautiful maple trees surround the outdoor bathhouse, whilst the indoor facilities are spacious, clean and very relaxing. Soap and shampoo are provided, and items such as hairdryers are available free of use for after your spa session.
Snacks and drinks are available for purchase at the spa, but you are also allowed to bring along your own lunch to enjoy once your time in the springs is over. Relax in one of the outer-facing lounges and allow yourself to make the most of your indulgent day out.
If you find yourself in Matsumoto City, a trip to Biwa no Yu is definitely worth your time. If you are interested in hiking before, this spa is well situated at the end of many trails so you can soak your tired muscles afterward. Or if you, like me, have never been to a traditional hot spring before, this is definitely a brilliantly way to experience it. Biwa no Yu will not leave you disappointed.