Release | nobu Kawashima
Why is there a watermill aside the outdoor bath? - Mysteries of Hoheikyo Onsen
Hoheikyo Onsen, located in the suburb of Sapporo City, has an open-air outdoor bath which feels really nice! The onsen is also known as the beauty bath. The outdoor bath feels so good that I want to be there forever. There is a watermill like a decoration aside from the outdoor bath. The watermill is very important for the onsen. Do you have any idea why it’s there?
Is a watermill needed for 100% natural hot spring without any additives?▲The watermill aside the outdoor bath is covered with snow. Why is there a watermill?
It seems like decoration at first sight. In fact, the watermill is necessary because Hoheikyo Onsen is a 100% natural hot spring without any additives.
“Why is that?”
To discover the reasons, let’s check out the water components of Hoheikyo Onsen!
What does it mean to be “100% natural hot spring without any additives”?Hoheikyo Onsen is a 100% natural hot spring. Because the spring has plenty amount of water, they do not add any water, nor heat the water, nor use water tanks. They pour the natural hot spring to the bathtub directly from the underground. Adding to that, they use the natural spring water for showers, too.
Visitors can enjoy extremely fresh water here!
▲The water is slightly green and turbid.
The water component contains bicarbonate which washes out old horny of skin and chloride which moisturize skin and keep warm. The onsen is also called the beauty bath. It is as if dipping into a thick concentrate.
▲The onsen also contains plenty of calcium. When the components of water harden, it sticks to the tips of tub and floor and makes the bath look like a limestone cave! It is the proof of fresh water being poured.
The temperature of the spring water is approximately 51.5 degrees. The temperature lowered a little bit when it is pumped up and poured into the bathtub, so it becomes right in the tub. However, the temperature differs very much depending on the outdoor temperature and the gap of temperature in the morning and at night.
To keep the temperature, they measure the temperature of the bathtub each hour. They increase the amount of water to pour when they want to raise the temperature and decrease when they want to make the water colder.
▲The outdoor bath in the mid-winter gets cold soon, so they always pour plenty of water.
Increase the water when it’s cold and decrease when it’s hot. The water temperature of Hoheikyo Onsen is controlled by the amount of water.
However, it is easy to keep the temperature on cold days because they have to pour more water but when it’s hot like mid-summer, bathtub can’t get enough fresh water if the water amount is too little.
Then the watermill has its job!
The watermill works when outside is hot!▲Water circulates the watermill and hits the rock at the bottom. Then the water is poured into the bathtub through rocks.
When it’s hot, they don’t pour the pumped water directly into the bathtub. Instead, they pour the water to the watermill. The temperature goes down as it circulates in the watermill so they can provide the right temperature without decreasing the amount of water too much.
▲You can enjoy plenty of fresh water even in summer!
The watermill in Hoheikyo Onsen is not just a decoration. It is essential equipment to enjoy 100% natural spring water without adding water or heating water.
Wow, this is really an analog way to manage the temperature. It is a treasure of long experience by the onsen guardian.
The warm outdoor bath feels extremely nice!There are three outdoor baths in Hoheikyo Onsen.
▲“Muine No Yu” is an outdoor bath as big as a pond. Females can bathe on even number dates and males can bathe on odd number dates.
▲“Yuyu no Yu” (in front) and “Fukurou No Yu” (in the back). Females can bathe on odd number dates and males on even number dates.
There are rocks arranged around and in the outdoor bathtub so at some places you can sit down, and at other places, you can dip your body entirely or you can lay down. There are various ways to enjoy the bath.
▲You can sit down or lay down. Find your favorite positions!
▲This wooden pillow at the corner of the bathtub lets you lay down. This feels like heaven!
The temperature of the outdoor bath is 39 to 40 degrees, and it is rather tepid. They make the temperature like this so that people can enjoy the bath for a long time. The indoor bath is 40 to 42 degrees so if you feel a bit cold at the outdoor bath, enjoy the indoor bath.
▲The indoor bath of Hoheikyo Onsen. It is hot compared to the outdoor bath, but this is also nice.
Enjoy the thick beauty bath as you watch the watermillThe watermill aside the outdoor bath looks like a decoration usually but it is important equipment to keep the quality of the bath.
▲The watermill is in the Muine No Yu.
Take your time to relax and enjoy the beauty bath as you watch the watermill covered with snow in winter and the watermill circulating in summer. Your skin may be moisturized very much after getting out of the bath.
Oh, don’t forget to enjoy Indian Curry, the famous local food of Hoheikyo Onsen, after the bath!
▲You can enjoy the real Indian Curry at the onsen facility in the mountain.
* The pictures of onsen are taken under the special permission before the business hour. In Hoheikyo Onsen, taking pictures including selfies using smartphones are strictly prohibited.
Text, photo / Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima
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