By Cathy Cawood
Drizzling, rainy weather in Mt. Fuji is perfect for....a trip to Benifuji no Yu Onsen! Take a soak in their steamy outdoor rotemburo baths and stick out a hand to feel the cool rain on your skin. Benifuji no Yu is one of two onsen or hot spring bathhouses at Lake Yamanaka near Mt. Fuji. The other is called Ishiwari no Yu, situated on the eastern side of the lake. If unparalleled views of Mt. Fuji while you bath and quality hot spring water is what you’re after, then Benifuji no Yu is the place to be.
The onsen is famous for its views of “Benifuji” or Red Fuji from its outdoor baths. This occurs when the snow on face of the mountain is painted with rosy, pinkish hues, especially in the early mornings of the winter months. Padding down the cold stone steps to the rotemburo at your most vulnerable makes the steamy hot spring at the bottom all the more worthwhile! Benifuji no Yu opens especially early from 6 am during this time of the year so customers can enjoy the spectacular sight in style.
Mt. Fuji and its five lakes also has many scenic hiking trails along mountains in the surrounding area. The onsen’s aromatic steam room is perfect for if you have got an aching body from hiking. Try doing some muscle stretches while you’re in the steam room. It’s simply magic. And your muscles will sing with delight!
Benifuji no Yu sources pure hot spring water for its baths, and hence the water is naturally alkaline (with 10.3 pH level). The hot spring pumps out around 150 litres of water per minute for the onsen to use. Its properties are good for those with muscle and joint pain, stiff shoulders, motor paralysis, hemorrhoids, bruises, sprains, poor blood circulation, fatigue, worn-down immune systems and of course, healthy skin!
The onsen also recently underwent renovations in December 2015 and has since opened with state of the art facilities. In addition the to outdoor baths with breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji, there are also indoor spa baths with Jacuzzi jets to pummel sore muscles or targeted weight-loss areas, a dry sauna where you can watch some TV, massage room and a hot stone spa (ganbanyoku). There is a canteen with a large seating area and free Wi-Fi if you’d like eat dinner before your bath. Local noodle dishes also feature on the menu. There is self-serve Japanese tea and vending machines selling milk for a cool refreshment afterwards.
Its relaxing atmosphere and easy-to-use facilities make Benifuji no Yu a wonderful gathering place for families, a chilled hangout spot with friends or a place of refuge and recuperation for anyone who is just after a good old soak in the onsen!
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The language intrigues me and as well as Japan's personality, vividly different in each season in the year. Having previously lived in Tokyo for a year, I've developed a weakness for onsen, Mt. Fuji, autumn leaves, the festivals and Japanese stationery. More than trying my hand at photography, I enjoy sharing my photos and travel experiences with others so that they can laugh, feel inspired and come along for some of the journey!