Since today was Sunday and since Jude woke up from his nap early (3:30PM) we decided to go on an extended onsen adventure. I scanned for hot springs that close at 4PM and called one in the area but they said that since it is Golden Week, that they are are not letting hot spring-only guests in. bummer. So I scanned for hot springs that close at 5 PM and found one called Tsukahara Onsen, it is in the next town Yufuin and it is the furtherst hot spring on the 88-tour.
We drove down the back roads and up and up and up the mountain. I was suprised when I realized that Tsukahara was the big smouldering caldera that I could see from the highway everytime we drove past Yufuin into Beppu. I couldn't get any pix of it so check out the website's gallery.
I did however get Jude in front of the front-end loader.
It looks like they are rebuilding their driveway, and I imagine they make enough money to do so. It was 500 yen for me and 200 yen for Jude and it was one of those "no-soap, soak-only" hot springs. It smelled like an old rusty pipe so I figure it was full of iron or something. It was definitely an experience, but I just don't feel clean unless I get to soap up and wash off. The idea behind these types of onsen is that you let the mineral soak into your skin and don't wash it off. I guess if I had gout, maybe I would but I prefer to wash my body rather than walk around smelling rusty all day.Don't get me wrong. It was cool and the landscape was stunning. I might like to come back here and do some hiking someday.
So Jude and I continued on our quest. We actually set out with the goal of hitting 3 onsen in one day, but once we got to the next spot, Teru-Yu in the Ogura neighborhood, Jude wouldn't leave. I looked in my onsen book and it said 200 yen, famous old onsen. I figured we were in for something rustic but this place had been rebuilt recently and was absolutely gorgeous. It seemed very popular with the locals because it was really full. The tub sits almost flush with the ground with a slightly raised rim of marble or marble-esque stone. You have to sit on the floor to wash yourself which is standard at the local hot springs not geared toward tourists. The folks here were some of the friendliest I have met (as opposed to Tsukahara where people didn't even say hello). A man came in with his 3 kids and Jude was having fun playing with his (hot) water pistol with them. He walked right up to them and said "Konnichiwa, Boku ha Judo desu (Hello, my name is Jude). " That's my Boy! Takes after his old shmoozer Grandpa John.
So at about 6 PM I had to bribe Jude out of the tub with promises of soda and we went home with bellies empty to enjoy Mommy's delicious dinner.
We are picking up the pace on our tour, having done 9 hot springs in April. We aim for 20 in May. This is the last thing left "to do" in Beppu before we move on (whenever that may be). Today's jaunt brought our count to 53. Only 35 left!