Tamagawa Hot Spring or the mouthful that is their full name ~ Showa Retro Spa and Sento Tamagawa Hot Springs. Hereafter Tamagawa Hot Springs for short. Occasionally with the Retro in front, just because its a word I happen to like!
Tamagawa Hot Spring
Down a winding country road, tucked in the leafy shadows of the natural woods of Tamagawa Country Club, Tamagawa Hot Spring defies its natural tranquil surroundings with a buzz of continuous activity. Even first thing on a Monday morning the car park is full. There are local registered cars, but also ones from outside the prefecture and much further afield. To my delight there are even several camper vans in the car park. Real ones, with real campers, not just for the Retro throwback image!
Inside the hot spring is packed, with barely room to pass the dozens on the corridor. The atmosphere is electric. I can hear the muffled sounds of 1960s songs coming from the second floor. I know instantaneously by the crackled back track and passionate delivery, just slightly off key, that it is Karaoke. Upon investigation I confirm my suspicions – old school karaoke; a stage and mike and big old karaoke machine at the front of a tatami mat eating and rest area. Wonderful! Between that, the average age of the clientele and the Showa paraphernalia and decorative style, it was like stepping into a different era.
Showa Retro Hot Spring
The Showa vibe is evident from the minute you park your car. You can see the little display outside the main entrance with an old three wheel van, much like the one in Only Fools and Horses, an old bicycle and a Showa period post box.
The Showa theme continues inside with so many Showa relics its like a museum rolled into the spa facility. The sweet shop is very popular especially with the older generation who can find goods from their childhood on sale. Even the canteen serves meals reminiscent of last century’s typical servings.
The hot spring and baths
There are two hot spring areas in the retro onsen. Akira No Yuu and Nagomi no Yuu. Akira is the kanji for the Sho of Showa and Nagomi is the kanji for the wa of Showa. Within each there is an indoor ofuro (bath) and a rotemburo (outdoor hot spring).
They rotate the spas between men and women’s week on week. When I visited it was the ladies turn for Akira No Yu. This is the “beauty” spa as they call it. I am tempted to go back next week to see Nagomi for myself. Even if I don’t make it next week, I hope to visit this hot spring frequently when I am hiking in the area.
A service of the hot spring is you can treat yourself to a mud pack. They leave out mud, with instructions in Japanese, to lather yourself in. You leave it on for ten minutes before thoroughly rinsing it off.
- Reading area
- Relaxation area
- Massage chairs
- Hammocks on the deck
- Toys for kids
- Baby bath for babies and toddlers to use
- Karaoke on weekdays, transformed into a kids play area on weekends
- Massage (for an extra charge)
- 1960s type sweet shop
- Take away hot spring water ⇊
Take Away Hot Spring
There is another onsen hot spring stand in Tokigawa that is quite famous. But the hot spring vending machine | coin operated hot spring | hot spring pump | hot spring stand | take away hot spring water in Tokigawa is of the highest quality. (Read on to find out why!) For 200 yen you can take home 18 liters of the water, provided you have something to put it in that is. Cainz sell plastic water containers entirely for this purpose.
Tamagawa Hot Spring – Saitama’s Best
Recently Tamagawa Hot Springs cleared a Kanto regional competition and were chosen to proceed to the finals of an All Japan ofuro competition Ofuro Koshien. Along with Cafe Bivouac they will represent Saitama. It is the first time an ofuro in Saitama has made it to the national competition. Both Tamagawa Hot Springs and Cafe Bivouac are owned by Hot Spring Dojo, which have a total of five spa “cafes” and one glamping site in Saitama prefecture.
Quality of Water
But its position in an esteemed bathhouse competition is not why the hot spring is zestful today, or any other day. One of the main reasons the hot spring cum sento cum bath cum spa draws the crowds is for the quality of its water. The 10.1 ph value of this strong alkaline spring pumped from the ancient Chichibu paleozoic strata 1700 meters below.
Tamagawa Hot Spring Popularity
Then there is its location. In the retiree dominant town of Tokigawa. Of its 11000 residents, more than half of them are over 50 years old. With the greatest concentration of the population in the 65 to 69 year old age group. Source. Add to that the town’s appeal for a rural experience just 90 minutes from Tokyo, with camp and barbecue sites, and its proximity to several hiking and cycling courses, you see why there is a constant flow of customers.
Tamagawa Hot Springs Information
Address: 3700 Tamagawa, Tokigawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama-ken 355-0342
Hours: on weekends from 5 am to 10 pm and on weekdays from 10 am to 10 pm. Last entry is at 9.30 pm. Food is available between the hours of 11 am and 9 pm.
Cost: 830 yen per adult on a weekday, 880 yen on weekends. On weekends they have discounts in the early morning and late at night. Primary school aged children cost 400 yen and preschoolers 200 yen regardless of whether it is a weekday or not.
Towel rental: 220 yen. Massage: upwards of 1800 yen.
Hot Spring Dojo Baths, Hot springs and leisure facilities in Saitama
Ranzan lavender festival is about a 7 minute drive from the Tamagawa Hot Spring: