Japan is blessed with abundant hot spring resources and is famous for having many hot spring resorts. Japanese people have enjoyed these onsen (hot springs) since ancient times and have nurtured cultures involving this gift from nature, fully enjoying the relaxing and healing effect on the body and mind. Dogo Onsen is the oldest hot spring in Japan. It is a time-honored hot spring area, recorded in one Japanese history book written some 1300 years ago.
Dogo Onsen sits in the middle of downtown Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, which is still very lively and popular with tourists. Hotels and ryokans (Japanese-style inns) thrive in the area, each accompanied by its own hot spring facility. Among them, majestic Dogo Onsen Honkan (the main public bathing house) is recognized as a symbol of the town, having hosted various prominent people including members of the Emperor’s family, big-name politicians such as Ito Hirobumi and Itagaki Taisuke and some of the foremost littérateurs and academics including Natsume Soseki, Yosano Akiko and Taneda Santoka. Dogo Onsen Honkan was completed in 1894 after two years of construction at an enormous expense. The building was made of three-storied wooden structure that underwent remodeling and expansion and was designated as an important cultural asset in the year of its centennial in 1994.
At Dogo Onsen Honkan, you have four different options. You can just bathe without any extra services or pick something that offers bathing and services afterward. If you just want to enjoy the atmosphere of Dogo Onsen, choose the option that includes kami-no-yu and the resting room on the second floor, which is popular with locals and is reasonably priced. There are other options including tama-no-yu and private rooms for resting, where tea and sweets are served along with rented yukata.
Dogo Onsen Honkan boasts a historical artifact called toki-daiko, a drum that announces the time at six o’clock in the morning, noon and six o’clock in the evening. The heavy booming sound of the drum has been selected as one of the 100 best soundscapes of Japan, evoking a traditional atmosphere of the old hot spring resort, taking you back in time to 100 years ago. Dogo Onsen has recently held an art festival called “Dogo Onsenart”, which displays some unique contemporary artworks and installations. The festival has received a high praise from home and abroad and has been given three stars by the Michelin Green Guide Japan.
INFORMATION – DOGO ONSEN HONKAN
[Address] 5-6 Dogo Yuno-machi Matsuyama, Ehime
Kamino-yu bath: Daily 6:00-22:30
Tamano-yu bath/ Yushinden: Daily 6:00-21:00
Private bath: Daily 6:00-20:40
Kamino-yu bath: 400 yen /upgrade 800 yen, Tamano-yu bath: 1,200 yen, Private bath 1,500 yen
By car: 20-minute drive from Matstsuyama Highway Matsuyama IC or Kawachi IC
By taxi: 15-minute drive from Matsuyama Station, 30 minutes from Matsuyama Airport
By train: 25 minutes from Matsuyama station (by Matusyma Shiden Route 5)