Matsuyama – Dogo Onsen

We recently visited Matsuyama, home to the Dogo-Onsen, the oldest bath house in Japan with a 3000 year old history. Many of you will be familar with Hayao Miyazaki’s anime – Spirited Away, which is based on this very bath house. The bustling busy-ness of this historic bath house was also brought to life in the animation. Staff were constantly running around and yelling out ‘welcome’, ‘thank you’, ‘please’ to guests, or instructions to each other. People were constantly afoot, and there was none of the serenity one usually associates with a contemporary spa. Bathing is a communal activity in the Japanese culture, and many groups of women and men visit the baths together, scrubbing themselves in the public bath while chatting away un-self-consciously. It was an amazing experience to a foreigner like me. 🙂

Industrial activity on the islands on our way to Matsuyama from Kobe

Our greenhouse gases!

Matsuyama in dusk – finally arrived after 4 hours travel from Osaka!

Dogo Onsen – 3000 year old bathhouse – oldest in Japan!

View of bath house architecture from street

Bath house – rear view – series of roofs which are copper clad. Beautifully green.

Doesn’t this image remind you of one of the scenes from Spirited Away? 🙂

Around the bath house is a fence with iron cast crane sculptures

Men and women alike seem to enjoy dressing in uniform type yukatas, carrying littel bamboo baskets for their towels, and visiting the baths together! Bathing together (yes, in the nude) is a community activity.

The corridor leading in to the women’s public bath (door on the right under red cloth)

Corridor lined with pictures of visiting Imperial Family – who have their own private rooms

No one actually thinks nudity is an issue here… All just part of nature…

Busy-ness at the ticket booth, and lockers for shoes. No one ever enters a Japanese house with shoes.

After one’s bath, some could pay a bit extra for a lounge area to relax and be served a cup of tea and rice crackers

Or one can pay that little bit more for a private room to dress properly and be served tea and sweet dessert dumplings.

View out of our private room – looking at adjacent modern buildings through the beautiful old shoji screens

Down the dark hall way with all private rooms on each side

Poking our heads out of some windows, we noticed some services of the building… enough to convey the utilitarian nature of this old building, and somehow reminded us of how Chiro the child protagonist ran through the back of house stairways and pipes in Spirited Away…

Chiro sitting on the balcony of the bath house

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