W hile it is the smallest and least populated of Japan’s four major islands, Shikoku is filled with a vast array of historical, cultural and natural gems. History buffs flock to the area for its ancient shrines while others come to continue the “88 temple pilgrimage.” Nonetheless, what every visitor should take the time to enjoy while on the Zen-steeped island of Shikoku is konyoku onsen, or mixed-gender bathing.
Mixed bathing has been a part of Japanese culture since the 9th century. Sadly, more and more konyoku onsen are closing their doors due to the effects of a somewhat imposed “taboo” and an increasingly negative view of mixed bathing that many younger Japanese people have due to the bad manners of (mostly male) bathers. Experiencing and supporting this dwindling breed of onsen is not only a rare treat, it’s the only way to continue this old tradition. With proper etiquette and decorum at these previous community hubs we can do our part to help ensure they stay around for generations to come!
With that, many of Shikoku’s konyoku onsen have not survived the passage of time. This list, therefore, includes many kashikiri onsen, or private rental baths, that can also accommodate mixed gender bathing while letting you soak up the best of the region with your partner, family or friends. This is another great way to experience onsen culture for those who aren’t keen on bathing with strangers.
In the last installment of our series on mixed gender onsen across Japan, here is a list of nine great onsen in this regard that you can check out while visiting Shikoku.
1. Asuka no Yu
If you’re visiting Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture, a must-see attraction is Dogo Onsen, one of Japan’s oldest hot springs. In December 2017, Dogo Onsen opened an annex to its original location, a mix of modern interior design and traditional Japanese art that mirrors Japan itself. Asuka no Yu is a luxurious visit for those who want to bathe in style — and privacy.
Though the establishment is known for its public baths, the two luxurious private rental are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. One of the baths, named Yushiden, replicates the Honkan’s Yushinden bathing room, a bath that was constructed in 1899 that was strictly reserved for the Imperial family.
- Admission: ¥2,000 plus ¥1,650 per adult for 90 minutes for Yushiden, ¥1,650 per adult for modern-style private bath
- Access: About 15 minutes by car from Matsuyama City station
- Address: 19-22 Dougoyunomachi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture
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