Yugawara is the kind of place that attracts elderly as the area caters to a specific kind of tourist who typically enjoy very traditional aspects of rural life. Generally people over 50 who love dried fish and onsen, as Yugawara is an old onsen town and a seaport village with shops as old as time immemorial. There are memories here of a bygone era relished by baby boomers and people who grew up in this tiny little quaint town. Yugawara is definitely not for everybody, but if you do come down here, try to take it all in. It's my third time here.
On this recent trip I didn't indulge in the dried fish delicacies. N.G. The shiokara (squid and assorted guts marinated) is pretty tasty and can be found all over the place down here. Instead I opted for a gourmet burger, fries, and coke, but first I had to take a dip in a little radon to get the blood flowing.
The name of the hotel is called Shiroyama Hotel, and it's the first major onsen hotel you'll see in the center part of town. It is very easy to find. As a quick note, one reason why some people may pass through Yugawara is because of the limited day-use onsen that are available to non-guest. In other words, there are a plethora of hotels with great onsen, but not many of them allow day-use. When I discovered Shiroyama had offered it from 11am to 24:00 I was on my way.
When I entered the hotel the place was clean and had retained a lot of its original history and architecture. Lots of repeat customers were there too, they had to be because everybody knew each other by name and association. I paid one thousand yen and was given a bathing set with a two towels, a yukata, and locker key. I headed up to the sixth floor and prepared myself then entered the water.
What is a radon and what is a radon bath? Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that's colorless, orderless, and tasteless. Exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer. Radon baths have been used to treat chronic pain associated with rheumatic arthritis for hundreds of years, and with some positive results. I mean, if you are sixty then exposure to radiation shouldn't be such a major concern. Other things, like stress and high taxes will kill you a lot faster. I manage to take a dip in these baths once a year, or so. Radon bathing has been known to treat a myriad of other diseases as well, even those associated with the heart, and so on. Radon has been used as a medical treatment here in Japan for centuries - need we mention the life expectancy rate in Japan?
The radon looks just like any other kind of baths, but with with special evaporators that release steam in the air with radon. Radon baths are not hot! But, more like a comfortable warm 37 degrees centigrade.
I made this short snippet to give you a little example of the nature and surrounding areas. Take notice of the trains passing by and the sound of trees and the bath. In my onsen theater series I do not offer any commentary, just musical scores for dramatics. Best if enjoyed with headphones.
Notice the cypress flooring