Nerve pain, lower back pain, exhaustion, sensitivity to cold, women’s diseases… The hot springs in Japan treat all of those. Another common problem for today’s people is eyestrain caused by long work in front of the computer or smartphone. A very good place I’d like to recommend is the hot spring inn Kaikake Onsen in Niigata prefecture’s Oku-Yuzawa. This hot spring was discovered 700 years ago and is widely known for its rare to be found eye-treating effect. It’s believed that if you wash your eyes with the spring water your vision will improve! Now let me tell you more about this place.
Healing your exhausted eyes with the water of this secluded hot spring
Nowadays our lives include constant gazing at the computer screen or the smartphone. These devices are very helpful, but tend to exhaust and dry our eyes. Many people complain of hurting and throbbing eye pain at the end of the day.
Therefore it feels great to relax your eyes soaking in a hot bath in the evening. Well, in reality you can’t soak your eyeballs too, but there is a special “eye hot spring” in Japan with a positive healing effect.
It is located about 20 minutes away by car from JR Echigo-Yuzawa Station in Niigata prefecture, nestled in the mountains and surrounded by virgin beach tree forests. Kaikake Onsen was discovered and opened during the Kamakura period, 700 years ago. During the Warring States period the local feudal lord Uesugi Kenshin used to visit this place as his hot spring escapade. Later during the Edo period, when the hot spring culture spread also among the ordinary people, Kaikake Onsen’s eye-healing effects became widely popular. In the beginning of the Showa period there was even a state-approved eye medicine using this water on the market. Wouldn’t you want to visit this hot spring after hearing about its impressive history?
Wash your hands and eyes in the freely flowing hot spring
Kaikake Onsen is a rare to find hot spring with eye-healing effects. Here you can wash not only your body, but also your eyes. “What? Washing my eyes?”, you might exclaim, but indeed at Kaikake Onsen there’s an old tradition of doing that. Let me explain the procedure.
How to wash your eyes properly
Scoop some hot water (about 37 degrees) from the spout with your hands, open your eyes wide and soak them in the water collected in your palm. Continue by opening and closing your eyes until you get used to this. It will take 1-2 minutes.
Be careful when you wash your eyes
Use only lukewarm water. There is an indoor bath where water is heated up to 42 degrees and you shouldn’t use it for your eyes. Also, the effect doesn’t intensify the more you wash your eyes so don’t overdo it.
Soaking your body in the 37-degree lukewarm hot spring water
Kaikake Onsen’s hot spring water is lukewarm, about 37-degrees. That means you can stay in it for a long time. Relax leisurely in the bath surrounded by the rich nature of Oku-Yuzawa while listening to the sound of the springing water.
If you stay for about 30 minutes inside, your body will be embraced by little bubbles. This is a sign that your body is starting to heat up. A long relaxation in the lukewarm water means that lots of hot spring components can enter your skin. Soak in the water, wash your eyes from time to time, and finally enter shortly the hotter bath to enjoy fully the hot springs of Kaikake Onsen.
A mystical hot spring with a miraculous effect
Kaikake Onsen’s water is rich in metaboric acid. It is exactly this component which is often used by doctors in the ophthalmology clinics. During the Edo period people lacked today’s antibiotics so they used to treat their hurting eyes in the miraculous water of Kaikake Onsen. The hot water is good not only for the eyes. Next to the inn there’s a big pond in which plenty of colorful carp fish swim freely. The hot spring water flows into this pond and makes the colors of the carp fish even brighter. This is a real wonder of the secluded hot spring. Indeed, Niigata prefecture is the home of the colorful carp fish.
Welcome to the inn located in Oku-Yuzawa
Kaikake Onsen is a member of Japan’s association of secluded hot springs. In fact, it’s not so secluded and can be easily accessed near National Route 17 which connects Yuzawa with Naeba. Turn to the narrow road when you see the sign of Kaikake Onsen and drive until after you cross Kaikake Bridge. Many first-time visitors won’t believe that there is an inn at such a hidden place. But when you see the solid inn your disbelief will turn into an excitement from having discovered a secluded hot spring. The inn is by no means luxurious, but is quite warm and cosy.
Kaikake Onsen's charm and hot springs
Kaikake Onsen is located 20 minutes away by car from JR Echigo-Yuzawa Station and there’s nothing else around it. There are no supermarkets or convenience stores. But there is lots of nature, freely flowing hot springs and a starry sky – everything your exhausted body needs to relax. What heals your eyes is not only the miraculous water but also the very pleasant environment. You can easily reach this place in about 100 minutes from Tokyo using the bullet train. Enjoy your relaxing time and heal your exhausted body at this great place.
Hot spring water quality Water components: Calcium chloride, transparent with no color Temperature: 36.8 degrees Celsius Healing effect: Cataract, dry eyes, eyestrain, burns, wounds, nerve pain, lower back pain, stiff shoulders Accommodation: 1 night 2 meals from 13 800 JPY Day trip hot spring: Adult 1000 JPY (11:00 to 14:00)