Coming to Shikine-jima, one of Tokyo's so-called Izu Seven Islands, and not visiting the island’s onsen (hot spring) would be a terrible oversight. The best hot springs are undoubtedly Jinata onsen (地鉈温泉) and Matsugashita-Miyabi-yu (松が下雅湯). I am not sure how the names translate exactly, but I think Jinata refers to the fact that it is situated in a canyon. Of the two, Jinata is the more famous, while Matsugashita-Miyabi-yu is the more accessible. There is a third one called Ashi-tsuki onsen (足付温泉); however, I will have to visit that one next time.
Located right on the seashore Jinata onsen is made up of a complex network of natural rock pools, vents deep underground heating the water. The different pools vary in size and temperature, ranging from very hot to pleasantly warm, although the temperature does change as the day goes on thanks to the incoming tides. While enjoying the waters bathers can soak up an unobstructed view of the Philippine Sea. I think there are surely few better ways to relax than this.
As morning turns to afternoon, the waves of the Philippine Sea, driven on by the tide, eventually flood the many pools, bringing in cool, fresh seawater. By around 4:00 p.m. the onsen is largely submerged and the bathers have left, waiting for the waters to recede.
Matsugashita-Miyabi-yu is also a fantastic place to have a soak. It is basically in two parts: one part is very similar to Jinata and is formed of a series of rock pools on the seashore, while the other area consists of man-made pools, which have lovely views out to sea and have the distinct advantage of not being flooded by the incoming tides.
Matsugashita-Miyabi-yu is often the preferred option simply due to ease of accessibility. To reach Jinata you have to walk down a fairly long flight of uneven stairs, although this should present no problem to anyone in reasonable shape. It is also worth bearing in mind that around the onsen – and on the seashore in general – there are a very large number of funamushi (terrestrial isopods), but there is no need to worry as they are more frightened of you than you are of them.
Both Jinata and Matsugashita-Miyabi-yu are open twenty-four hours a day and are free. Come, relax and enjoy, but bring your swimsuit!