Do you know any hot springs which bring happiness? The Japanese style inn (ryokan) “Shofuro Matsuya” in Tochigi prefecture’s Nasu-Shiobara Onsen is known for bringing happiness to those who soak in the hot waters there. Even the hot spring water quality there is exceptional! It helps restore youth and strengthen beauty. A day trip to try the hot springs there is most recommended. I will now introduce the awesome open air bath at “Shofuro Matsuya”, as well as some secluded hot springs around and local cuisine.
The open air bath which brings happiness to those who enter! "Shofuro Matsuya" in Nasu-Shiobara
Entering a hot spring is a great way to recover from gloomy depression caused by work or family problems. To those who value their time and money I recommend a day trip to Nasu-Shiobara Onsen’s “Shofuro Matsuya”.
There are two open air baths in “Shofuro Matsuya” – “Fukusuke no yu” and “Otafuku no yu”. They are not simply ordinary baths, but have the rare fame of bringing happiness to those who enter them. A day trip is recommended to those who would like to try them. Admission fee is 1000 JPY per person. Towels can be rented, so it is okay to go there empty-handed.
“Shofuro Matsuya” is about 3 hours away from the Tokyo’s center. If you go by car, take Tohoku highway and change at Nishi-Nasuno-Shiobara IC to route 400 for about 20 minutes.
“Shofuro Matsuya” day trip hot springs Admission: 1000 JPY per person Open: 13:30~17:00 Note: Towels available for 300 JPY
"Fukusuke no yu" sets your soul at rest
“Shofuro Matsuya” is a ryokan located in Shiobara Onsen’s Fukuwata district. Just like its name implies, the water of the hot springs there is said to bring happiness.
“Fukusuke no yu” is the men’s open air bath. It is believed that men who enter will find rest and relaxation, and will return home with happiness in their hearts.
Houkigawa river flows right in front of “Fukusuke no yu”. The water is so clear that it is thought to be ideal for fishing. The surroundings are quiet and all you hear is the murmuring of the stream. The wind on your cheeks feels so pleasant.
What a glorious feeling! Indeed, the atmosphere sets everyone’s soul at rest… This is how impressive the open air bath is.
"Otafuku no yu" brings nature and happiness together
Next is the women’s open air bath. It is believed that “Otafuku no yu” brings peaceful happiness through the combination of nature and smiles.
Inside “Otafuku no yu” you only hear the pleasant sounds of Houkigawa river. Gradually your body and heart relax, and a smile naturally appears on your face. Planted trees protect the privacy, so it is a little less open than the men’s bath, but nevertheless the view and the water bring a feeling of happiness.
The hot spring water in “Shofuro Matsuya” is rich in sodium, calcium chlorate and sulfate. The water is colorless, transparent and mild, preventing you from feeling chilly upon exiting. What caught this author’s attention was the meta-silicic acid component, which helps create a naturally beautiful skin, as well as the meta-boric acid component, which has a disinfection effect for acne skin. The water is rich in those two components, therefore believed to be very effective for beautiful skin.
"Iwa no yu" and "Fudo no yu" are secluded hot springs in a walking distance from "Shofuro Matsuya"
After enjoying the open air bath at “Shofuro Matsuya”, you can take a short walk to the public gender mixed baths “Iwa no yu” and “Fudo no yu” (on the photo).
“Iwa no yu” is located within a 3-minute walking distance from “Shofuro Matsuya”. Just turn right after the suspension bridge over Houkigawa river. This place worships the deity of children, therefore soaking in “Iwa no yu” is believed to bring you the blessing to have children. The hot spring is on the same level as the river water, so the feeling is as if you’re soaking directly in the river! However, the bath is in full view from the walking path and it takes some resolution to use it. Try this challenge at least once.
“Fudo no yu” is located about 20-minutes away from “Shofuro Matsuya”. Turn left after the suspension bridge and follow the path for about 300 meters. It is a secluded hot spring embraced by the forest and all you hear is the rumble of the river stream nearby. It is said that Kobo Daishi drew with his nail an image of the Buddhist deity Fudoson there, so the hot spring is powerfully spiritual. During daytime it is almost always open for private use. The feeling of soaking in the water surrounded by the forest is exquisite.
The water of “Iwa no yu” and “Fudo no yu” is rich in bicarbonate. Different than the water of “Shofuro Matsuya”, it is still good for beautiful skin. Visiting all 3 hot springs in a day is like a real happy set! Let’s start our trip around the happiness hot springs in Shiobara Onsen!
“Iwa no yu” and “Fudo no yu” Open: 6:30~21:00 Admission: Honor system payment, 200 JPY Guests of “Shofuro Matsuya” can use them for free
Recommended lunch! Nasu-Shiobara’s local noodles "Yakisoba soup"
If you’re looking for a place to have lunch at Nasu-Shiobara, I recommend “Kamahiko” restaurant where you can try the local noodles “Yakisoba soup”. It is located about 15 minutes by car from “Shofuro Matsuya”. A very popular place also visited by local people.
The local delicacy “Yakisoba soup” tastes neither like ramen, nor like yakisoba noodles. The taste is unique. And addictively delicious! It looks like a typical vegetables ramen in soy sauce broth, but the noodles are actually yakisoba. The fragrant fried cabbage is very sweet, while the soup has a fresh taste of chicken bones and vegetables. The noodles go easily down your throat. After you eat the garnish, the only thing left to enjoy slurping the soup. Definitely try the yakisoba soup in Nasu-Shiobara!
“Kamahiko” Address: Tochigi prefecture, Nasu-Shiobara, Shiobara 2611 Open: 11:00~15:00
A day trip to relax your body and soul! Go to Nasu-Shiobara’s "Shofuro Matsuya" and their happy hot springs
Shiobara Onsen is a recommended hot spring town which is relatively close to Tokyo and good for relaxation of the body and soul. Compared to other popular places such as Kusatsu and Hakone, it is less crowded and one can enjoy their time. Those who need refreshment should definitely visit the happy hot springs of “Shofuro Matsuya”.