Ask anyone what they hope to accomplish if they travel to Japan and a few must-dos crop up: see the cherry blossoms bloom IRL (in real life), take a pic with Mount Fuji in the background, scuttle with the crowd across the Shibuya Crossing and of course, luxuriate in an onsen.
Though you might have some reservations or difficulties heading to Japan right now to tick off all of the aforementioned activities on your own bucket list, you can, however, take a dip in an onsen on the Little Red Dot.
While the ones here aren’t exactly real, natural geothermally heated hot spring baths, they are more than good enough to help sooth your weary bones, smooth your skin and ease all of your workdays’ stress away.
So hayaku (Japanese for “hurry up”), and pack up quick to visit any of the ones here in our hot list of hot baths to soak yourself silly.
1. Joya Onsen Cafe
Joya Onsen Cafe is where you should go to nourish both your soul and your body. It offers onsen baths infused with tea essence and minerals to warm you up, and a cafe to help fill you up with food delights.
First, the facilities. For the not-so-shy soakers, there are public onsens that are common onsen areas shared by fellow folk of the same gender (one for the gentlemen, and the other for the ladies). They include a common shower area, an onsen pool, a cold bath and a sauna room. You can opt to soak in the public onsen till you look like a prune – there’s no time limit for your use.
For those more coy, there are two private onsen rooms that you can book, either just for yourself or with one other (regardless of gender). Each comes with a shower area, a dressing area, a private onsen pool and a sauna room. But, as we all know, time is a luxury, so you only get to spend 1 hour and 30 minutes here.
Top up $7 to get an onsen refreshment ticket, which gives you a 4-piece set of sushi (with options such as Spider Maki, California Roll and Salmon Sushi), a dessert (think a scoop of coconut, strawberry, yogurt or Hokkaido Milk ice cream) and a drink (hot tea, coffee or the ever-popular bottle of Hokkaido Milk).
Or, if you really need to fuel up after all that “skinny dipping”, you can also order up more fare such as Spicy Miso Soup Noodles ($10), Hearty Tomato Cheese Soup Noodles ($10) or Crispy Mushroom Fritters with Nori Mayo Dip and Salad ($8).
BONUS: SAFRA members enjoy 10% off public onsen services on weekdays at Joya Onsen Cafe. Click here for more information.
2. Koyamaki Onsen Bath Therapy at Elements Wellness Centrepoint
This is not your typical open, public onsen experience. It’s a pampering affair that you can either reserve all for yourself or gift your beloved one.
Offered by wellness and beauty specialists, Elements Wellness, this onsen therapy treatment is the ultimate in spoiling yourself or your bae.
Imagine this: you (or your other half) in a gorgeous private room, melting away in a handcrafted Koyamaki wood (or Japanese Umbrella Pine) tub with energised ion water, complete with real hinoki (or Japanese cypress) wood bath accessories for that extra soothing, luxe touch.
Koyamaki is the most prized of the five sacred trees in Japan, and is renowned for its beauty and therapeutic properties. So what happens when you indulge in this treatment?
You will get to refresh your senses with the lime-scented fragrance of the Koyamaki wood, that itself also offers up healing, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal natural oils, along with the negative ion onsen water helping to neutralise free radicals for a supposed anti-aging effect.
Plus, you will also get to relieve pains and aches, uplift your mood, detoxify your body and boost your metabolism.
Wish to savour this experience truly and more fully? Then try the spa’s Contrast Hydrotherapy treatment that packages its Crystal Cold Shower, hot Onsen and Steam Bath together to aid in body recovery and detoxification.
Visit elements.com.sg for prices and to book the Koyamaki Onsen Bath Therapy. Elements Wellness, multiple locations, including 176 Orchard Road, #02-28, The Centrepoint, 238843, www.facebook.com/elementswellnessgroup; www.instagram.com/elementswellnessgroup
BONUS: SAFRA members get to enjoy a choice of one Wellness Treatment at a special price at Elements Wellness, including an option to top-up with a private couple Koyamaki Onsen Therapy for $62.06 at Elements Wellness Centrepoint. Click here for more information.
3. Yunomori Onsen & Spa
If you are a true blue lover of onsens, then you would know of this popular Bangkok chain onsen and spa located within Kallang Wave Mall. And, if you don’t, here’s our brief introduction.
What it is: claimed to be South East Asia’s top onsen that combines traditional Japanese onsen therapies with Thai spa treatments, it offers both simple, authentic baths and modern hydrotherapy experiences, along with a host of massages, as well as wellness and beauty treatments. It’s really your one-stop destination for a whole day of relaxation.
What’s on the menu: For you “water babies”, it’s the baths, ranging from Jet Bath, Hot Bath, Cold Bath and Bubble Bath, to its specialties, the Soda Bath (first of its kind in South East Asia) and Silk Bath.
For the achy-breaky, it’s the massages – choose from traditional Thai, Aroma Oil, Head & Shoulder, Back or Foot, with a Herbal Compress as an add-on option.
For the beauties and beaus, look to the Facial Aging Care with Onsen RG92, Scar Removal & Whitening, Body Care and Hair Removal treatments available here.
And, for the hungry (a.k.a. everyone), there’s the Yunomori Cafe that serves up satisfying Japanese fare such as soba and ramen.
Visit www.yunomorionsen.com for the full list of services and prices. Yunomori Onsen & Spa, 1 Stadium Place, Kallang Wave Mall, #02-17/18, 397628, www.facebook.com/YunomoriOnsen; www.instagram.com/yunomori_onsen
4. Ikeda Spa
This is one of the first and most reliable Japanese-inspired spas in Singapore that promise to be a “quaint retreat that feels just like a Japanese hot spring resort”.
How “resort-ish” is Ikeda Spa? It’s not the locale, but its award-winning services, treatments and hospitality. Of its superb sugoi massages, plop yourself down for the Ganbanyoku Detox Massage that is performed on a Ganbanyoku hot stone bed, or the Zen Candle Therapy Massage which features the spa’s customised massage zen candles that liquefy into a nourishing skin balm.
Or try its signature Geisha Organic Facial which combines a unique Japanese meridian massage technique with Chidoriya skincare that’s created for the geishas in Japan.
Expect to be treated with traditional Japanese beauty ingredients such as rice bran, camellia oil, azuki red beans, and, oh, some bird poop – namely, the spa’s exclusive uguisu no fun, made from UV-sanitised nightingale droppings.
Saving the best for the last, there’s the Hinoki Onsen bath. Made with Japan’s prized cypress wood, the hinoki bath releases mineral oils from the wood, calming bathers with its soothing scent, and yielding anti-bacterial and therapeutic wellness benefits for both the mind and body.
You can either choose to Zen out with this experience on your own or as a couple.