JAPAN TRAVEL: Sunamushi Onsen, A Hot Spring Experience Under the Sand
A trip to Ibusuki wouldn’t be complete without trying their famous natural steam sand bath, commonly known as sunamushi onsen. Although onsen is a widely known form of relaxation, the sunamushi onsen is a different kind of onsen experience as it involves the use of sand.
Ibusuki shoreline in Kagoshima Prefecture
Located along the Ibusuki shoreline, the so-called “Hot Spring of Beauty,” has become a favorite relaxation destination in Kagoshima for both men and women. This steam sand bath onsen is known to have many health and beauty benefits, thus the popularity among adults.
This unique kind of onsen is done outdoors at the seashore, where your body will be covered with geothermally heated sand that’s around 50 to 55°Celsius. The warm temperature is produced by the hot spring water that gushes out from the beach of Ibusuki Surigahama.
Both men and women must wear yukata before getting their bodies covered with sand
To start the sunamushi experience, you will have to change your clothes to a yukata robe. After changing, go to the sand bath area at the seashore, where your body will be covered with black sand. The experience should only take 10 to 15 minutes. The sand will feel a bit heavy as it warms up, but it is still manageable. You’ll sweat a lot, which is part of its detoxification process.
The sand bath staff will then shovel the sand to your body.
After, you will need to wash the sand off your body through a shower. Immediately after the experience, you’ll feel rejuvenated and it leaves your skin feeling refreshed.
Only your face will remain uncovered during the steam sand bath.
Aside from relaxation, the sunamushi onsen is known for its scientifically-proven health benefits, as the sand contains sodium chloride that helps relieve headaches, asthma, rheumatism, and other body pains. It also improves blood circulation and is said to be three to four times more effective than ordinary hot springs. Make sure to try sunamushi onsen that you can only experience in Kagoshima!
Filipina lifestyle journalist Marie Lozano tries the sunamushi onsen in Kagoshima
- Pregnant women, people with high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, and fever are prohibited to use the sand bath.
- Take the sand bath before a meal to avoid indigestion.
- There are other facilities along Ibusuki that offer sand baths.
- Group discounts are available.
How to get here
By car: From JR Ibusuki Station, it takes a 5-minute drive to Saraku.
By public transport: From the Ibusuki-ekimae bus stop, take the bus going to Sunamushi –kaikan bus stop for approximately four minutes.
Address: (Ibusuki Sand Bath Hall ‘Saraku’) 891-0406 Yunohama 5-1 25-1 18 Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture
Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Contact: +81 999-23-3900
Sand bath fees: ¥1,080 for adults/13 years and older, ¥590 for children under 12 years old.
Bath towel rental fee: ¥200 (inclusive of yukata robe)
This first appeared in Philippine Primer Vol. 36 – March 2019 issue.