When you visit Japan for vacatipn, a trip to the countryside allows you to see a dofferent side of country. Iwami is far off the beaten track, the nearest big city is Hiroshima, but it can be accessed via Hagi-Iwami airport from Tokyo, JR buses from Hiroshima, JR trains, and even an old ateam train. Though Yunotsu (温泉津) is famous for its hot springs (温泉onsen) as its name implies, Motoyu (元湯) is a special onsen, even for Yunotsu village. There is an interesting story attached to this hot spring.
1300 years ago, a priest who was traveling around Japan visited Yunotsu. There he saw a mountain with forests of Japanese cedar and, on the top of the mountain, there was a small house under a big Japanese cedar tree. The priest stayed at the house for one night and the next day he went down the hill. When he got to the foot of the mountain, he saw a raccoon dog which had an injury. The tanuki (raccoon dog) was in a small pond and licking its injury. The priest watched it from the bushes for a while and after it was gone, he walked over to the pond. Surprisingly, its water was hot. He told many people on his travels about the injured tanuki and how the hot spring waters had healed it, so this hot spring become famous as an onsen town which could cure injuries or disease. For more than a 1000 years, this story helped spread the word about Motoyu onsen to all of Japan, and thus it became the first famous onsen in Yunotsu village. Because the tanuki helped this hot spring to be discovered, there is a raccoon dog on the top of the Motoyu onsen building.
Even now, Motoyu is famous as the oldest hot spring in Yunotsu and its ability to cure disease and many people from all over Japan come and enjoy the hot spring here. The color of the water is brown and the heat is about 47.C ( It changes every day). The onsen water contains salt and minerals so you can smell and taste them. You can even drink the onsen water at a place across the street from the Motoyu hot spring. There is Japanese style inn, Tyo-mei-kan(長命館) next to the onsen drinking place. The fee is from 7,350 yen to 10,500 yen for one-night stay with meals for evening and morning.
When you go to the Onsen(温泉Hot spring), please pay 300 yen to the female staff who sit in the center of the building, and then women go to the right and men use the left side. There are lockers with a key, so put all your belongings in a locker and lock it. Then you can enjoy the hot spring.
Some things you should pay attention to when you bathe: First, the water contains salt and minerals and they make your hair hard to manage, so if you have long hair you had better tie your hair up and not soak it in the water. Second, there are no showers and no hair dryers. Lastly, please rinse your body with water from bath tub before you enter the tub to relax, and you cannot take a towel with you into the tub. The temperature of the water is hot in each of the three main tubs, but the water temperature varies in each tub. From left to right, there is a shallow tub (for sitting), a hot tub (about 46 degrees C), and a hotter tub (48.C).
There are more Onsen in Yunotsu, so keep these rules in mind and enjoy the hot springs!
Address: 208-1, Ro, Yunotsu, Yunotsu town, Oda city, Shimane
Parking lot: free
Business time: 5:30 am ~20:20
Fee: 300 yen(adult), 150 yen(child), 350 yen (for towel)