Finding zen in a shopping mall onsen

Depending on where we are from, zen can be found in different ways.  If you are from the mountains, you may need to travel to the Himalayas.  If you grew up by a lake, it may be necessary for you to find a shimmering reflective body of water and take a solitary row.  But if you are from the suburbs, an on-sen in a shopping mall might just do the trick.

In Japan, there are on-sen complexes which are the the bathing equivalent of a multi-plex theater, where you can choose from a variety of baths to soak in.  These range from whirlpools with various built-in seating arrangements, to rotenburo, outside baths, under palm trees.  The tropical style architecture and design create a far-away resort feel.

After trying out all the baths, take your time in a relaxation room where fabrics in patterns from Southeast Asia drape over rattan armchairs and translucent curtains give semi-privacy to small rooms where you can lie down on a massage table and go into a heavenly state.

All this for 490 yen.

Sama Sama onsen in the D-Plaza Mall, Oita Prefecture
Sama Sama onsen in the D-Plaza Mall, Oita

If, like me, you are from the suburbs and prefer not to go too far for your nirvana, check your local listings to see if one of these complexes will be coming soon to a shopping mall near you.

Aikawarazu Life in Japan

Onsens in Tokyo

Looking for a place to relax? It’s not easy to slow down in a city as busy as Tokyo, but you would be surprised that you don’t have to go far to enjoy some hot and relaxing therapeutic water. The city offers its own geothermal concoctions of which you would expect only from a pricey resort further up in the mountains. Onsens in the city are nothing new, but there are a few newer places that are worth the visit and the experience. The list below is of some of the most relaxing soaking spots around the city.

Note: Tattoos are not popular in onsens as they are associated with criminal activity. So, if you have one, you may be asked to leave. Best to cover it up with a bandage or heat patch, if possible.

La Qua

1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku. Tel: 03-3817-4173

Open daily: 11am – 9pm

Nearest Station: Korakuen

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

2-57 Koto-ku. Tel: 03-5500-1126

Open daily: 11am – 9pm

Nearest Station: Telecom Center(Yurikamome Line) also free shuttle buses depart from Tokyo, Shinagawa, and Kinshicho Stations

Machida Roten Garden

358 Aihara-cho, Machida-shi. Tel: 042-774-2681

Open daily: 10am – midnight

Nearest Station: Hashimoto

Seta Onsen

4-15-30 Seta, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3707-8228

Open daily: 10am – 11pm

Nearest Station: Futako-Tamagawa.

Niwa No Yu

3-25-1 Kouyama, Nerima-ku. Tel: 03-3990-4126

Open daily: 10am – 11pm

Nearest Station: Toshimaen