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To my left was a double date: Four Japanese teenagers, clad in kimonos, were laughing giddily as they splashed their feet in the flowing water. To my right were two children, lifting their own miniature kimonos to wade through the shallow stream under their mother’s watchful eye. And then there was me — a tourist who was wrapped in her own kimono while enjoying the soothing warmth that enveloped my submerged feet against the crisp chill of the night air.
At Oedo Onsen Monogatari, Tokyo’s largest artificial hot springs complex, I imagined this was typical a Friday night at the day spa. Groups of locals and visitors alike — of all ages and ethnicities — crowd into this city-within-a-city in Japan’s capital to soothe their aching bones in the natural hot springs; play carnival-style games; or dine at on-site restaurants that serve everything from ice cream and crepes to sushi, teppanyaki, handmade tofu, udon noodle soup and more.
Upon entry, guests are expected to change out of street clothes and into a kimono to wear in the spa’s public areas (nudity is permitted in gender-separated areas), as well as don a wristband that tracks any a la carte purchases, which may include meals, beverages, games and additional spa treatments.
I spent most of my time in the 164-foot-long footbath — which was constructed outdoors to resemble a winding spring located in a serene, Japanese-style “tsubo” garden. But the rest of the building boasts 13 different types of baths at a variety of temperatures and filled with low-alkaline water that has been sourced from nearly a mile underground. Soaking in this naturally warm water is thought to yield a variety of health advantages, from beauty-enhancing benefits and fatigue relief to improved circulation.
Note: The onsen is open daily; the full-day admission rate begins at about $25. As is the case in most onsens in Japan, guests with tattoos are not permitted to enter the baths.
The DetailsOedo Onsen Monogataridaiba.ooedoonsen.jp