Asia,  Others,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Test & review of Irifune Onsen in Osaka (Japan)

To find out how a session in an Onsen takes place, it’s this way.

Very little touristic, it is a very popular experience that you will live at the Irifune Onsen (in my opinion rather Sento (popular bath) in spite of its name).
This Onsen isn’t listed on Google Map, so here is a link to locate it precisely.
Even before entering the Onsen, you must take off your shoes and put them in a locker (no room needed).

An automatic machine is available to buy your ticket but also to rent a towel, buy soap, shampoo, … (which aren’t provided).

The exercise isn’t easy because everything is in Japanese. It took us a good 5 minutes to get through it thanks to Google Translate.
In the end, we could have saved ourselves this effort because once we pushed the door open, a person holds a wicket with a few indications in English.
The room is separated by a wall: on the left the women, on the right the men.
The checkroom is smoking which isn’t very pleasant. Television which broadcasts a sumo fight, one is immediately in the atmosphere.
The onsen itself is much smaller than the first one we made. No sauna, no hammam. 3 or 4 baths in all and for everything.
People are clearly there to wash rather than to relax. Some come from elsewhere with their families. They all have a small plastic basket with everything they need: shampoo, soap, razor, toothbrush, … (they come with their products but everything can be bought on the spot if needed).
I was a little bewildered by the order. I had the impression that after a quick rinse, the premises were going to a first bath before they had even washed. There seems to be a bath reserved for “deslagging” (not sure I understood…).
Another astonishment, there was a bath with a small red light and a sign (illegible to me) written in red as well. I didn’t see anyone going in but I ventured in for 2 seconds… before getting a (mini) electric shock and coming out immediately. I don’t know if it’s normal (surely) but no desire to end up like Claude François, our trip to Japan is just beginning. (EDIT: in another Onsen I saw another bath with a sign – in English – indicating an electric bath. It’s anything but pleasant but it’s normal 😀 ).
Another strangeness: I met several men with huge tattoos (whole back and legs) when I thought it was forbidden (and it is in most Onsen). If you want to experience a public bath while you’re tattooed, this is probably a good address.
Last but not least, the little lady at the reception was charming. As I was about to go out, she waved as if to ask me if I was waiting for someone on the other side. Seeing me answer in the affirmative, she goes to see where Anh is and comes to explain to me, always in a gestural way, that she is drying her hair.
She then suggested that I wait in the warmth and came to tell me, a few minutes later, that Anh was ready. Japanese courtesy once again.
In conclusion, Onsen very nice to live an authentic experience, you will most likely be the only foreigner there. If you prefer to relax for a long time and enjoy a hammam and a spa, this isn’t the most suitable place.
Rates: 440 yen for the entrance, 40 yen for the shampoo, 20 yen for the soap, 20 yen for the small towel.
Schedules: from 6am to midnight.
Payment in cash only.
Tattoos accepted.

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