A Guide to Kyoto’s Arashiyama Fufunoyu Onsen

If you’re in the Kyoto area, one very convenient place to experience an onsen is located in Arashiyama. This onsen is near popular spots such as Arashiyama Monkey Park and the Togetsukyo Bridge. One thing I noted in Arashiyama is that it can be difficult to locate a onsen that is available to the public. Throughout my quest to find an onsen, a majority of locations require that you are a resident of the hotel which the onsen is located. So unless you’re staying in one of the many hotels, this one is the perfect place to try out: Fufunoyu Onsen!

I had no chance of taking pictures because of many reasons, most notably for privacy conflicts. But having experience this onsen myself, I can still provide a useful guide to get you smooth sailing towards that much needed relaxation. Here’s my guide to Arashiyama Fufunoyu Onsen. This is also helpful on how to use onsens in general too!
Entrance to the Onsen and Company Logo. Source: http://www.hotespa.net/spa/fufu/img/top_img/002.jpg

Address: Japan, 〒616-0001 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nishikyō-ku, Arashiyama Kamikawarachō, 1




Provided is an outline of the entire onsen from the company’s website, please refer this outline for all the general and specific locations provided below!

Source: http://www.hotespa.net/spa/fufu/img/spa/spa_img01.png

Main Lobby


The main lobby houses 3 important locations, starting with the storage lockers, ticket machine, and the front desk. When you enter the building, you’ll notice immediately that there is a step that leads to the matted surface. It is Japanese tradition to remove your shoes before stepping on to the surface. If you forget, don’t worry! The staff will politely ask you to remove your shoes. 

After you have removed your shoes, the staff will guide you to the storage lockers, simply find an available locker (available ones have a key), and store all of your items that you have brought. This includes, backpacks, shoes, hats, eyewear, etc. This may sound silly but keep your clothes on! There’s another place for that. Also keep your wallet and cash with you to purchase a ticket. 

When you have stored your items, head to the ticket machine and purchase your items. There are several types of items you can buy, but the main ones that you’ll need are towels. They are required to use the onsen. There are two sized towels, I went with the larger towel. Once you get your ticket, you can head to the front desk

At the front desk you can exchange your ticket for a towel, and also your storage locker key will be exchanged here for a dressing room key. This key is used for the dressing room lockers within the onsen. Once you’ve got your towel and key, now it’s time to head to the next location!

Onsen

The onsen is split to men and women sections, the men's location to the right and the women's location is straight ahead. When you enter, there will be additional dressing room lockers that you use to store your clothes and your wallet. This onsen requires that you have no undergarments on so just be aware of that! When you’ve stored your clothes in the locker, take the dressing room key with you and head to the shower area. 

Before you enter the onsen, you must be squeaky clean using the provided showers! The showers have a showerhead for that traditional shower experience or a faucet for a bucket that you can dump gallons of water on your head to clean that dirt from your adventures with the provided soap and shampoo. When you are sparkly clean it is now time to relax! 

There are  3 hot springs that you can use, 2 indoor ones and 1 outdoor. The indoor ones are great for when the weather isn’t good such as snow and rain. But I prefer the outdoor one since the spring has therapeutic chemicals added. Also note that between the 2 indoor hot springs, the smaller one will be significantly hotter than the larger spring. 
If you need to cool off, you can go to the ice bath that is located near a sauna in the outdoor section. The ice bath is COLD but gives you a rejuvenating kick that wakes you right up! 

Once you’ve decided that the water is too hot to handle, go ahead and head back to the dressing room and collect your things, there should be additional towels to dry you off. The room also provides Q-tips (or cotton swabs) to clean your ears, along with a handy hair dryer to dry off your awesome hair. As an added bonus, there is a water fountain nearby to quench your thirst from sweating off in the hot spring, be sure to re-hydrate. Once you’re dressed up, you can toss the onsen towel in a basket near the exit. 

Rest/Waiting Area

Now that you’re fully clothed again, if you’re with a group you can wait in the rest area, or if you’re alone, go there anyways and relax some more! There’s actually quite a bit to do here, massage chairs, foot massage machines, pillows to lay down, TV to watch, there’s even a bookshelf full of Japanese Manga and novels to read (or look at). I highly encourage you to try the massage chair and foot massage, especially after trekking 12 miles straight. 
Rest Area. Source: http://otoku.eposcard.co.jp/sp/epotoku/courtesy/spa/fufunoyu/img/img_facility01.jpg

It’s important to re-hydrate more at this time because even though you’ve been sitting in hot water, sweating does occur, and dehydration is very common. Near the rest area is a vending machine to buy drinks and some snacks and candy. I heard it was a tradition to drink milk after using the onsen, and boy I could understand why people do it, it’s refreshing to say the least, but I really like that cultural aspect of it, so I encourage you to try it out too! (If you’re lactose intolerant, I understand) 

End Notes and a Few Tips


Here are a few tips for this onsen that may help you:

• Like I’ve mentioned earlier, you must not have any undergarments on when entering the onsen. If you’re uncomfortable with nudity (I honestly thought it was strange at first), there are possibly other onsens that allow certain undergarments. But I encourage you to go and try this one as you will get over the awkwardness very quickly.
• If you’re a guy like me, the towel is an excellent censor bar to use when walking around if it's still awkward
• The hottest hot spring is very hot! Take your time or just stick your feet in instead
• The cold bath is COLD, like goosebumps COLD
• Don’t attempt to drink the onsen water…not recommended (it was accidental)
• There is also a large bucket full of cool water near the showers to cool off the body if needed.
• I highly suggest visiting an onsen at the end of the day from all the walking you’ve done! It really helps with muscle cramps, tightness, soreness, and general pain you accumulated from all that walking, and a great way to end the day.
• There’s also a sphygmomanometer near the onsen entrance, just in case you’re wondering what this is, it’s the machine to measure your blood pressure
• When you leave, be sure to put on your shoes after you’ve stepped off the mat, not when you’re leaving the storage locker area!

Now that you’re fully rejuvenated, you can continue on with your journey through Kyoto (or wherever you’re located)! Simply return the dressing room key back to the front desk and get your storage locker key to get the rest of your things. There you have it! Now you’re pro enough to walk in that onsen with absolute confidence that you know what you’re doing!

Cover photo shows the outdoor hot spring.  Source: asahip.jp


Saikham Xiong