Shibi Onsen is a hot spring village located in Kagoshima prefecture’s Satsuma town. In another article I’ve already introduced the private hot spring cottage “Shiki no Mori Shibian”, but this time I want to introduce all the public baths and ryokan inns in the village! I’ll also provide useful information for all hot spring and countryside fans, so please read until the end!
The hot spring source comes from right under Shibi Shrine and is considered divine
Shibi Shrine has an ancient history and dates back to year 866 when it was constructed as a place to worship a local Shinto deity. During the Edo period it was a family shrine of the Shimazu clan, while afterwards it became a prefectural shrine for official ceremonies until 1945.
We don’t know for sure when the hot spring was discovered, but there are records telling about it which date back to 1384. Around the end of the 17th century the hot spring water was used for bathing by the local monks.
Ordinary people began using the pools only about a century and a half ago. The hot spring was quickly named “the divine water”, as the source was right under the grounds of the Shibi Shrine. The temperature is 55 degrees and every minute 200 liters of hot water gush out of the ground, however the depth of the source is unknown.
There is an interesting old tradition taking place every autumn in which astringent persimmons are put into the hot water for one night to remove their astringency. The persimmons become sweet and acquire a light sulfuric aroma after spending the night in a large persimmon-shaped hot water tank in front of the public bath. If you visit this village in the autumn be sure to try the specially prepared persimmons.
One of the best places is the municipal public bath
Now let me introduce the various facilities and inns located in Shibi Onsen. I’ll start with the municipal public bath. It was renovated in December 2002 as the only public bath in the village, also known as “Shibi Kuyu”. The bath is located right next to Shibi Shrine and is the closest facility to the hot spring source. Locals pay 100 JPY to use it, while visitors from other places pay 200 JPY. Many people come from various towns in the area to bath here. The end of the year is especially busy as people return to their hometown and become attracted by the high quality of this hot spring.
There is even a foot bath which uses the abundant hot water coming from the nearby spring. It’s a great pleasure to visit the shrine, have a little walk around the village and finally soak your feet into the foot bath.
You can even drink the water! Many people take a full bottle with them when they leave and use the water for cooking or diluting their sake.
There is a rest facility next to the public bath that can be used for 840 JPY per person. It’s open between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm and bringing your own food and drinks is allowed.
Shibi Onsen municipal public bath Address: Kagoshima prefecture, Satsuma-gun, Satsuma town, Shibi 2198 Telephone: 0996-59-8975 Hot water type: thermal hot spring Open: 5 am to 9:30 pm Admission fee: 200 JPY per adult (100 JPY for locals), the foot bath can be used after a small donation Closing day: none Equipment: Free hair dryer (towels, soap and shampoo can be purchased)
The abundant water of the open air bath “Kusunokiso”
Next, I want to introduce “Kusunokiso”. It’s an impressive inn designed in white color and known for its abundant quantity of hot water. Besides using the hot spring coming from under the shrine, they also have their own source.
The indoor bath has a large pool with tiles, a hot tub and a sauna. Freely flowing hot spring water in abundant quantities is used. The alkaline sulfuric thermal water is good for skin beautification. You can also drink it safely.
The open air bath consists of a greenish rock pool which uses 100% freely flowing hot water. There are bamboo pillows so you can even have a nap. Here you can enjoy the natural beauty of Shibi Onsen’s four seasons and the good quality of the hot spring!
“Kusunokiso” Address: Kagoshima prefecture, Satsuma-gun, Satsuma town, Shibi 2145-1 Telephone: 0996-59-8841 Hot spring data: Water type: sulfuric thermal Open: 10:30 am to 9:00 pm Admission fee: Adult 500 JPY, child 250 JPY Closing days: none Facilities: shower, sauna, hot tub Equipment: free hair dryer, body soap, shampoo (towels can be purchased) “Kusunokiso Inn” Accommodation: 1 night with 2 meals start from 10 600 JPY Rooms: All Japanese-style rooms Hot spring: 3 pm to 10 pm/ 6 am to 9:30 am Check-in: 3 pm (until 7 pm) Check-out: 10 am
“Chidoriso” and its freely flowing “divine water”
The next place I want to introduce is the ryokan inn “Chidoriso”.
The hot spring here has gender-divided rock pools with black mineral deposits flowing in the water. This bath uses the freely flowing water which comes from under the shrine. The pH index is 9.4 and the water is alkaline and sulfuric thermal, good for the skin. Although the facility uses the same hot spring source as the municipal public bath, the water here is somewhat better and feels great on the skin. At least that’s how I felt personally, but other visitors told me the same too. This inn is located a little bit away from Shibi Onsen’s main street so it’s a good place to enjoy a tranquil bath alone.
There are also cozy gender-divided open air pools. The water in Shibi Onsen is rather hot, but it slowly enters the pools so the temperature is always pleasant. Please note that the open-air bath is only available in the green season, not in winter.
“Ryokan Chidoriso” Address: Kagoshima prefecture, Satsuma-gun, Satsuma town, Shibi 2198 Telephone: 0996-59-8246 Hot spring data: Water type: sulfuric thermal Open: 9 am to 9 pm Admission fee: 300 JPY Closing days: none Equipment: body soap, shampoo (towels can be purchased) Accommodation information Accommodation: 1 night with 2 meals begins from 8500 JPY Rooms: All 10 rooms are Japanese style (two of them are large and can be used by bigger groups) Hot spring: 4 pm to 9 pm/ 6 am to 9 am Check-in: 4 pm (until 8 pm) Check-out: 10 am
Be the first to rent the pool at “Hatago Shibiso”!
Finally, let me introduce the popular private hot spring “Hatago Shibiso”.
There are 2 gender-divided pools with oval tiles. The hot spring water is freely flowing and comes out of a nostalgic-looking pipe made like a lion head. Another trapezoid-shaped pool uses the greenish water of a domestic hot spring source. The pools are different so you can choose where to go – that makes this place popular among all kinds of people.
Besides the indoor pools, “Shibiso” has also popular open air rock baths. They aren’t large, but have a genuine rural beauty. You can rent the pool privately without paying additional fees. However, there is no reservation in advance so please wait if there are other visitors before you. How great it is to use both the indoor pool and the private open air pool for the same price!
“Hatago Shibiso” Address: Kagoshima prefecture, Satsuma-gun, Satsuma town, Shibi 2168 Telephone: 0996-59-8001 Hot spring data Water type: sulfuric thermal Open: 8 am to 9 pm Admission fee: 300 JPY (including the private open air pool) Closing days: none Equipment: soap, body soap, shampoo, free hair dryer (towels can be purchased) Accommodation information Accommodation: 1 night with 2 meals begins from 8760 JPY Room: 17 rooms (each suitable for two people). Two of them are large and can be used by bigger groups Hot spring: 3 pm to 10 pm/ 6 am to 10 am Check-in: 3 pm (until 7 pm) Check-out: 10 am
There are more secluded hot springs in Shibi Onsen
Besides the hot spring facilities I introduced already, there are also other hidden spots in Shibi Onsen village. Some of them are not promoted to the general public, but locals know them and love them for their rural beauty. Sadly I cannot tell you about them, but if you go to Shibi Onsen and make friends with the local people they’ll surely introduce the hidden facilities to you.
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