Yudanaka & Shibu Onsen: 'Ashi-yu' (Footbaths)
As traditional hot spring towns, both Yudanaka Onsen and Shibu Onsen have natural thermal foot-baths that can be used by anyone, free of charge. Known as ‘ashi-yu’ in Japanese, they are often located outside of guesthouses or in prominent areas around onsen towns.
Upon arrival at Yudanaka Station, visitors have immediate access to a large ashi-yu on the opposite side of the station. Located directly infront of ‘Kaede no Yu’ onsen – a hot spring actually located in the station! – the large foot-bath is open all year round. The naturally hot water is obviously a delight in winter but also surprisingly refreshing in summer – the ideal place to sit and wait for your train.
For those heading to Shibu Onsen, be on the look-out for two large ashi-yu in town. The most prominent is located above Bathhouse No.9 – the ‘O-yu’ – while the larger of the two is located at the top-end of town, nearby Onsen-ji Temple.
Several guesthouses in Shibu also have small foot-baths outside, for use by anyone who fancies refreshing their feet, body and mind.