Ofuro Cafe Bivouac, Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
2019 was the first year that Saitama prefecture was represented in the prestigious All Japan ofuro competition Ofuro Koshien . Not just one, but two of Saitama’s hot springs were selected: Retro Onsen Tamagawa and Ofuro Cafe Bivouac. Both owned and managed by Onsen Dojo. Both placed in the competition, as runners up. If you’ve ever been to either you’ll know why.
Ofuro Cafe Bivouac
Cafe Bivouac is certainly one to bookmark if you are in or coming to Kumagaya for the Rugby World Cup, but please note that, regrettably, they do not allow anyone in with visible tattoos. If you have tattoos that can be covered up with clothes you can use the many facilities, but unfortunately you cannot use the baths.
The water used in the baths in Bivouac is not natural to the area, but is shipped in. But what makes this hot spring resort special is more than just the baths. The complex is a leisure resort with a multitude of offerings for a full day’s worth of pampering and play. You can even stay overnight cheaply in their capsule hotel style sleeping booths.
When you enter the building you take off your shoes and put them in a lockable shoe box. Take the key to the reception area where they will mind it for you until you check out. You get a band for your wrist with a readable bar code. You use this for any purchases within the resort, including vending machines. This will be added to your bill and you pay on your way out.
Cafe Bivouac services and facilities
- Eight different types of hot spring / baths
- Children’s play area (outlined below)
- Bouldering (outlined below)
- Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Rooftop Barbecue (outlined below)
- Work space
- Over 10,000 manga and books
- Tree houses
- Pod tents
- Comfortable glamping seating areas
- Free sleeping areas
- Sleeping booths for an additional cost
- Camp fire
- Beauty Treatments
- Fitness Studio
- Free wifi
- Events (outlined below)
Children’s Play Area
Initially, when Cafe Bivouac opened its doors in 2016, it was for adults only. In 2017, just a year after opening it underwent a renewal and reopened as family friendly with several things for children to enjoy, included in the entry price.
The popular kids play area is great for kids under eight years old. It has a ball pool, climbing wall, tree house, tee-pees and children’s books.
On the first floor there is a large bouldering wall for adults and older children. It costs 1000 yen for an hour and 200 yen to borrow climbing shoes.
Cafes and Restaurants
On the first floor there is a small cafe selling fast food such as hot dogs. There is also a bar. On the upper floor there is a larger restaurant with fantastic decor. The latter has a kids plate on its menu. There is a cafe beside the restaurant too.
The spa has events almost every day. They vary greatly with larger events for big seasonal occasions such as Halloween and Christmas. Yesterday was the first time any of my family actually participated in an event. Normally we just use the various facilities.
Yesterday’s event was a big bingo competition to celebrate the three year anniversary of the resort. The prices, 130 of them in total, were amazing including large prizes such as tickets to Disney, a Nintendo Switch, a Twin Bird’s bread maker and an air purifier. With well over 130 people participating there wasn’t a prize for everyone, but they had a consolation prize for those who weren’t among the lucky 130.
There are different packages available. There are discounts for members. It only costs 220 yen to become a member. The cheapest package is for one hour or early morning use. Early morning use is the same price as the one hour price outlined below, but you can use between the hours of 5 am and 9 am (last entry 8.30 am). If you pay for a set time of one, two or three hours you don’t receive room wear or a towel to use.
|Short / Fixed|
|One hour |
/ Early a.m
|90 minutes||Two hours|
|Adult||430 yen||530 yen||630 yen|
|Child||200 yen||250 yen||300 yen|
|Preschooler||100 yen||150 yen||200 yen|
A towel and room wear is only provided in the “free time” entrance package. This package allows you unlimited play and provides a towel and pyjama like room wear for you to use during your visit.
|FREE TIME||Per person||Member’s Price||Overnight|
|Adult||1380 yen||1200 yen||+1200 yen|
|Child||690 yen||600 yen||+1200 yen|
|Preschooler||390 yen||300 yen||+1200 yen|
All packages include access to the spa, sauna, hammocks, books, tree houses, rest areas and sleeping pods (except for the bedrooms), work space, kids play area and certain relaxation areas. Free coffee and water is also included.
Things that are not included in the entrance fee and cost extra regardless of what package you use are the bedrooms, adults climbing wall, any sort of beauty or massage therapy, food, vending machines and events.
My family of six really love this spa resort. It is quite far from us so we don’t go that often, but when we do there is something for everyone. It is a great location for a rainy day or a very hot day.
My younger two, aged four and six, really love the play area. We usually just use a two hour package if we are not entering the baths and they spend the whole two hours in the play area. The youngest, would easily spend longer there.
My older two, currently aged ten and eight, recently find regular play centers and playgrounds boring. They enjoy hot springs though and the manga and climbing at Bivouac. There is a work station area with computers they can use freely. They also enjoy the hammocks and tree houses. They loved the bingo competition yesterday and were very fortunate to be among the prize winners.
Personally, I love the variation of the baths and the sauna, as well as the chill out pods, hammocks and generally the glamping decor. It is one of a few places of its type that I am happy to visit over and over again. And it really does offer relaxation and chill out time. For me, it is definitely on the “best of Saitama” list and its award as one of the best spas in all of Japan is definitely well deserved.
|Address:||939 Kubojima, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0831|
|Hours:||Onsen ~ 10 am to 9 am (open 23 hours daily) |
Bouldering ~ 10.30 am to 9.30 pm
Kids Park ~ 10 am to 9 pm
Outgress ~ 11 am to 11 pm
|Cost:||Different packages available, see main text for information|
Cafe Bivouac is located right on route 17, the old Nakasendo way (external site “Nakasendo Way” English information), close to where it intersects with route 407. It is about a 25 minute drive from the Higashimatsuyama Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway.
Parking is free and plentiful, but it is spread over three different car parks, two of which are quite a walk from the facility.
By public transport the nearest train station is Kagohara station on the JR Takasaki Line. It takes about 20 minutes on foot. You can get a bus from Kumagaya station bound for Fukaya station and alight at Takayanagi bus stop. The bus journey takes about 35 minutes and then five minutes on foot from the bus stop.
Other Onsen Dojo resorts in Saitama Prefecture:
- You Park Ogose
- Comoriver Tokitama Himitsu Kichi, Tokigawa
- Retro Onsen Tamagawa, Tokigawa
- Cafe Utatane, Saitama City (official English web page)
- Ofuro Cafe Hakujyu, Kamikawa (official site, Japanese language only)