November 26 (11/26) is “the Good Bath Day”. Because, in Japanese, 11 can be read as “ii” that means good, and 26 “furo” that means a bath.
That’s why I would like to introduce just “hot springs” to you.
On this occasion, I reveal the information on my “highly recommended hot spring”, which I love so much that I have kept secret until now.
(Moreover, with a bathing scene of a good-looking man.)
The “highly recommended hot spring” is located at “Obama Onsen” in Unzen city, Nagasaki Prefecture.
“Obama Onsen” is a hot spring area with a superb view overlooking Tachibana Bay. 15,000 tons of hot water of about 100 degrees Celsius wells up a day from 30 sources of hot springs in this area, and the amount of heat is “the best in Japan”.
The hot sodium chloride spring water warms you up from the core of your body, so it is especially recommended in the cold season.
The 16 hot spring inns, and three separate hot springs which are communal baths, are each unique and attractive, but here is the one I would like to introduce.
Wakihama communal bath, commonly known by “Otasshan Hot Spring”.
“Otasshan Hot Spring” was opened in 1937.
The retro appearance of a wooden one-story building retaining the atmosphere of the Showa era days has been selected as a town’s landscape asset of Nagasaki Prefecture.
When I paid 200 yen at the collector’s counter and went inside, I felt just like I was in a “Museum of lives in Showa era”.
The wooden lockers and a signboard that says “Three sen per adult”, which has been around since the opening of the business, have a retro Showa era atmosphere, and they are really interesting.
Then, when I finally opened the door of the bathroom, my heart’s desire, and —,
there was an amazing space surrounded by extremely comfortable air there. The high ceiling and large windows let in the open and calm sunlight.
*The model is Mr. M, a good-looking staff member who accompanied me.
*It is not a bath where men and women bathe together.
I was surprised at the softness of the hot water!
After I poured hot water on my body and entered the bathtub, I was surprised at the softness of the hot water!
As to the element of this hot spring, it is the same “sodium chloride spring” as other hot springs in Obama Onsen. But the comfort just like being embraced by the hot water gives the impression that it is a little different from the others.
Your skin doesn’t get sticky but smooth after bathing.
And above all, you can easily feel refreshed from the tiredness of your shoulders and lower back due to overuse of the computer or cellphone.
Its good reputation has spread, and I heard that there are many regular guests who come not only from the local neighborhood but also from outside the city and the prefecture.
At the time of reporting, we shared this hot spring with a trio of healthy senior women from Shimabara city, who visit here almost every week.
“The hot water of this spring is really soft!”
“This hot spring is salty, but it is not sticky. That’s a good point!”
“You are exactly right!”
Their chat became lively.
We interviewed Ms. Miyoko Takushima, the owner.
“Otasshan Hot Spring” was opened in 1937 by a family led by Mr. Tsuneo Takushima, who is Miyoko’s father-in-law.
It is said that this hot spring has come to be called “Otasshan Hot Spring” after the name of the eldest daughter “Tashi-san” who ran a store nearby. But I think it has a meaning that when you have a bath in this hot spring, you will feel energetic, or “tassha”, a dialect in this neighborhood.
Miyoko was born in 1932, five years before the opening of this hot spring.
Miyoko is now 88 years old. According to her, she got married when she was 21, and came to this hot spring which was already crowded with many people.
“At that time, there were no indoor baths at the inns, so it was crowded with the guests from those inns.”
Looking up at the wisteria trellis at the front door that has been watching over this communal bath, Miyoko said smilingly, “This wisteria trellis has become a pretty old lady, however every year around the Golden Week, beautiful flowers with a pale purple color come into bloom and that makes guests smile.”
The tank of the source of the hot spring behind the site.
On our way home, we could see the source tank behind the site.
While being overwhelmed by the source of the hot spring that wells up with a roar, I felt that I had a glimpse of the power of Obama Onsen, which is said to have the highest amount of heat in Japan.
Even in Nagasaki prefecture, it has gotten colder and colder in the morning and evening, and the signs of winter are gradually approaching.
How about warming up in a warm hot spring and feeling refreshed?
854-0513 7, Minami-Honmachi, Obama town, Unzen city, Nagasaki prefecture
Charge: 200 yen
Open: 6:00 ~ 21:00
*Scheduled to be closed from July to August in 2021 due to renovation work.
“Real Treasure Hunt” Event in Nagasaki Prefecture!?
From Sunday, November 1, tour promotion event, “Real Treasure Hunt” will start. You will search for hidden treasure boxes in each area of Nagasaki Prefecture using the treasure map. The entry fee is free.
Points of the event
If you can’t go around all 12 areas, don’t worry. You can join even one area. Please feel free to join. The entry fee is free.
As it is “a level that even beginners can easily enjoy”, it is also recommended for a family outing.
Discover the attractions of Nagasaki again! You might be able to discover the attractions of the local areas you did not know along with the treasure hunting!
You might win a gorgeous prize by lottery!
Depending on the number of treasure boxes you find, you can apply for a lottery to win gorgeous prizes such as local specialties, accommodation vouchers in the prefecture, and V-Varen Nagasaki’s annual passport.
There are 42 kinds of prize in all. You can apply for a lottery to win prizes from clearing one area. The number of prizes you can apply for will increase depending on how many areas you clear. So, aim to clear all areas!
(There are two types of prizes: “Prize that you can always get by clearing the area” and “Prizes won by lottery”.)
Now, get a “Treasure Map” and go on an adventure!
How to get the treasure map (a participation booklet)
1) Free distribution on the spot (Tourist information centers in 12 areas in Nagasaki Prefecture, etc.)
2) Free download on the official website
*12 areas in Nagasaki Prefecture
(Sasebo city, Shimabara city, Hirado city, Matsuura city, Tsushima city, Iki city, Saikai city, Unzen city, Minami-Shimabara city, Higashi-Sonogi town, Kawatana town, Hasami town)
*You will be able to download the treasure map from 17:00 on Friday, October 30.
*It may be difficult to read or understand by the download version. So, we recommend that you get the participation booklet, which is free of charge, from the tourist information centers in 12 areas of the prefecture.
Why don’t you take this opportunity to enjoy “real treasure hunting” with your family or friends while experiencing the attractions of various areas of Nagasaki Prefecture by taking advantage of the “Go To Travel Campaign” conducted by the national government.
Period: Sunday, November 1, 2020 ~ Sunday, February 28, 2021
Entry fee: free
How to participate: Please obtain the booklet distributed at tourist information centers in 12 areas in Nagasaki Prefecture and participate.
On the Atomic Bomb Memorial day of Nagasaki this year, we prayed at home.
Due to the spread of the new coronavirus, the Peace Memorial Ceremony was held on a much smaller scale.
The public was not allowed to attend.
I refrained from going out on August 9 and stayed at home watching the TV broadcast and praying in silence.
Another day, before the Day commemorating the end of the Second World War, I went to the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter.
Entrance of the Peace Park
It is convenient to get to Peace Park by tram.
Get off the tram at the Peace Park stop and cross the national road at the crosswalk, and you will soon find the entrance to the park.
You can take the escalator to the park, which is located on top of a hill.
Get off the escalator and walk straight ahead and you will see a fountain with crystal clear water.
Fountain of Peace
I was so thirsty.
There was something like oil floating all over the water.
I had to have water, and I finally drank it with the oil in it.
~From a girl’s memoir of that day
The memoir of a girl who was exposed to the atomic bombing, engraved on a stone slab in front of the building, contrasts so sharply with the refreshing fountain behind it that one cannot help but place one’s hands together and pray.
Beyond the fountain, looking small in the distance the Peace statue can be seen.
Step by step, I walked from the Peace Fountain to the Peace Statue, taking in the peace of the present moment.
The Peace Statue
The Peace Statue symbolizes the desire for peace.
Its beauty and preciousness are universal no matter how many times you visit.
The sculptor is Seibo Kitamura, a sculptor from Nagasaki Prefecture.
The Statue’s right hand, pointing to the heavens, represents the “threat of the atomic bomb”.
His left hand, stretched out horizontally, is the key to peace.
The lightly closed eyelids represent a prayer for the souls of the A-bomb victims.
Site of Nagasaki Prison’s Urakami Prison Branch Office
Before the atomic bombing, the site of the Peace Park was the Urakami Prison Branch of Nagasaki Prison.
It was the closest public facility to the hypocenter, but the building was destroyed from the ground up, and 134 staff and inmates were killed instantly.
The remains of the bombing can now be seen in part of the park (on the way to the Peace Fountain and the Peace Statue).
There is an information board with detailed information about the statue.
◆For more information about Peace Park (Peace Statue and Peace Fountain), click here.
Atomic Bomb Hypocenter
At 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945.
The atomic bomb was dropped from an American B-29 bomber and exploded about 500 meters above the city.
A monument made of black granite stands at the center of the bomb’s fall.
Along the site’s riverfront, visitors can see the geological strata of the time of the bombing. A large number of house tiles, bricks and heat-burned glass, destroyed by the bombing, are still buried here as they were then.
Today, the center of the atomic bombing is surrounded by greenery and is a place for citizens to relax.
An old man sits on a bench in the shade of a tree and reads a book.
An elementary school student engrossed in catching cicadas.
I, too, sit relaxed as I watch them.
I feel a sense of gratitude for the fact that we are now able to live in peace.
I am not against war, I am for peace.
◆For basic information about the center of the atomic bombing, click here.
Although I was not able to go there, you can experience the devastation of the atomic bomb and the preciousness of peace at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, which is located next to the Peace Park.
You can stand before each of the exhibits, accepting the history while thinking about true peace.
You can browse through books on the atomic bombing and peace, and there is also a library with a video corner.
◆For more information on the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, click here
Local people in Nagasaki have been saying, “It is so far away from Nagasaki” when they find dishes less sweet.
Tourists to Nagasaki would be surprised to find dishes served to them so sweet.
So, Nagasaki is a sweetness-oriented town.
In June, 2020, “Nagasaki Kaido, or Sugar Road, which contributed to the spread of sugar culture”, was recognized as Japan Heritage.
In Edo era Nagasaki was Japan’s only open window to the West for trading, while other Japanese ports were closed. And “Nagasaki Kaido” started in Nagasaki, and terminated in Kokura on the northern part of Kyushu Island. Various “people, commodities and information”, which came to Nagasaki from around the world, traveled along this road to everywhere in Japan.
Among them was “sugar”.
Nagasaki Kaido is also known as “Sugar Road”.
◇Nagasaki Kaido or Sugar Road
Nagasaki Kaido is featured in creativeness of various confections containing much sugar, and these confections still remain popular along the road.
In Nagasaki Prefecture we’ve been enjoying such popular and delicious confections or cuisine as “castella”, sponge cake, “momo-castella”, peach-shaped sponge cake ( from Nagasaki City), “okoshi”, millet-and-rice cake (from Isahaya City), or “omura-zushi”, vinegared rice layered with various cooked ingredients (from Omura City).
◇Nagasaki : Sweetness-oriented Town
In Edo era many people had few chances to taste sugar in Japan, but in Nagasaki it was different. Nagasaki was a special place you could enjoy sugar. The closer to Nagasaki you lived, the easier it was to get sugar. Because food culture using lots of sugar was created in Nagasaki and neighboring areas, there spread steadily an image of Nagasaki as a sweetness-oriented town.
So the words “It is so far away from Nagasaki (meaning the dish offered isn’t sweet enough)” were created to ridicule dishes which were not sweet enough as a result of someone’s skimping on sugar.
◇Where did sugar come from?
In Edo era, when Japan closed its door to the world, Nagasaki was the only window to the West and China for trading.
On “Dejima Island”, Dutch ships unloaded various commodities they brought from everywhere in Asia and Europe via “Batavia” ( current Jakarta in Indonesia), where
the Dutch had established the headquarters of Dutch East India Company to trade with Asian countries.
“Sugar “ was one of the main imports.
( picture: a model of a Dutch ship exhibited in a Dejima Museum)
Dejima was a fan-shaped artificial island and the only window opened to the West for trading.
Now Dejima Restoration Project to reconstruct buildings on the island exactly as they were in the early 19th Century has been undertaken
(Please access to the following for details)
There used to be a stone bridge called “Dejima Main Gate Bridge” connecting Dejima Island with the mainland in Edo era. In 2017 a new bridge was constructed on the same location between the island and the mainland after the lapse of 130 years. Let’s cross Dejima Main Gate Bridge, and travel through time into Dejima in Edo era.
A gatekeeper guided us.
The photo on the left shows a replica of Dutch “scales” used for weighing sugar and others.
Various imports including sugar brought to Japan by a Dutch ship were unloaded on Dejima Island and brought into warehouses called “Sugar Warehouse” after being weighed by scales,
Since the middle of the Edo period, the Customs house, a predecessor of the Nagasaki customs, had purchased the imports as a whole, which were put in a bid by Japanese dealers and were brought throughout Japan.
(photo on the left: a replica of “scales” weighing sugar and others, exhibited at West Gate)
(photo on the right: a replica of painting by Kawahara Keiga drawing a scene of scaling things),
“The Chinese and Dutch Quarters” , a picture scroll, exhibited in No.3 Warehouse.
In No.3 Warehouse, which stored sugar in Edo era, sugar packed into jute bags as was done in Edo era is now exhibited. (photo on the right)
You will see Clerk’s Quarters by its green-colored lattice. (photo on the left)
You will learn Japan at the period when Dejima was connected with the world and the rest of Japan, seeing the interesting exhibits and watching videos inside Clerk’s Quarters.
I’d recommend you to take a rest enjoying “a milk shake”, a local cold sweet, in a restaurant (on the first floor of the Former International Nagasaki Club) after you’ve learned history of Sugar Road.
Please access to the followings for details:
While the COVID-19 infection is spreading all over Japan, a good thing (probably the only good thing?) is spreading too. That is AMABIE.
AMABIE is a legendary Japanese ‘yokai’ specter which is believed to have the power to stave off epidemics.
It is said that during the time nearing the end of the Edo period (1603 – 1868), in the former Higo province (present-day Kumamoto prefecture), a half-man-half-fish ‘yokai’ spirit emerged from the sea and instructed people there to draw an image of itself and show it to others when there is an epidemic.
For this reason, a lot of ‘AMABIE’ goods have been produced all over Japan, wishing for the eradication of the COVID-19 and AMABIE has gained huge popularity.
Even the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare enlisted AMABIE as part of its campaign to prevent the spread of the Covid-19!
(From the homepage of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
For this reason, in this blog, we will introduce two “AMABIE” goods, current topics in Nagasaki.
【AMABIE ’wagashi’ (traditional Japanese confectionary)】
Hakusuido, a Japanese confectionary shop with a long history in Nagasaki, is now offering AMABIE-shaped sweets. (270 JPY a piece) These sweets are all handmade. Because of that, no two AMABIE sweets have exactly the same expressions on their faces. “I would like people to smile and enjoy having these sweets during this difficult time,” says the proprietress of the shop. How did their AMABIE sweets turn out to look so cute? That is because the confectioner of the shop made the sweets based on the image of an AMABIE that once appeared in a popular Japanese ‘yokai’ comic book, “Gegege no Kitaro”.
AMABIE sweets come with a good-luck charm that wishes for an early eradication of COVID-19.
Hakusuido prayed for the eradication of COVID-19 pandemic at Yasaka Shinto Shrine the other day.
“I want to buy the AMABIE sweet! I want to eat it! BUT I cannot go and buy it in the shop because we are all requested to stay at home.“ For you and other people who have the same problem, and also for people who live far away from the shop, Hakusuido started to sell on line at the shop’s official home page on May 1 (Friday). Until now, AMABIE sweets were only sold in the shop because they are unbaked and should be eaten when they are fresh. When shopped online, sweets are sent by refrigerated courier service. The shipping charge for AMABIE sweets is 540 JPY. (For other products, 550 JPY for shipping)
Shianbashi main store
〒850-0832 Adjacent to Shianbashi Tram Stop, 1-3 Aburayamachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture
AMABIE coloring and paper craft template
Isahaya Shrine in Isahya city have made an “AMABIE coloring and paper craft template” and are distributing them for free from the shine office. The template can be downloaded through the shrine’s home page. It is nice that we can easily download and print it at home while we are requested to stay at home, isn’t it? During the interview with the chief priest of the shrine, Mr. Miyamoto, he expressed his wishes that people spend their time peacefully doing this paper craft when they are expected to spend so much time at home.
During the interview with the chief priest of the shrine Mr. Miyamoto, he expressed his hope that people use this coloring book and have a peaceful time at home during the refrainment from going out.
He also advised, considering the current COVID-19 situation, not to go out to visit the shrine to receive the template but stay home and download them on the internet.
The template should be printed on A4 size paper, monochrome. When printed out, color it in, cut it out, and assemble it. The whole family can enjoy doing it!
1-12 Uzumachi, Isahaya City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Tel : 0957-22-2073
Official Homepage : https://isahaya-jinja.jp/
For the detail of AMABIE coloring sheets:
How about overcoming this difficult situation together with various “AMABIE” goods and with a smile?