By Trina Serrecchia
I found the secret to traveling back in time to Edo-era Japan at Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari. Imagine this: You’ve just gotten into town, changed into your yukata (a comfortable kimono-like robe worn during festivals), and are enjoying a walk through the festival evening on your way to the onsen (hot spring). You’ve stepped back through time, from modern Odaiba, Tokyo, to an Edo-era town square.
Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari is a hot springs spa theme park styled after an Edo-era town center. Once you walk through the doors and sign in at the front desk, it’s time to move through the magic time travel curtains. You find yourself transported back in time to a festival evening — stars in the sky and colorful lanterns all aglow. You find small shops, food vendors, a variety of spa services, and, most importantly, the entrances to gender separated hot baths of all kinds.
Perhaps you try your hand at the various Japanese-style carnival games, refresh yourself with plentiful hot or cold teas, indulge in your choice of spa treatments, or enjoy a variety of meals including sushi, yakitori, or udon noodles before you duck through the curtains to the bathing area.
The joy of this onsen is that you can soak in bliss till you get pruney, then spend time cooling off in the Edo town square or upstairs in one of the lounges. Chat with friends in the traditional Japanese-style tatami mat room, or take a nap in the room filled with recliners. Since this onsen is open 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. the following day, you can actually spend the night here!
If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari is certainly worth a visit — especially if you need a break from sightseeing but still want to immerse yourself in the traditional Japanese experience of soaking neck deep in bubbling hot water, soothing your tension away. You will probably be one of only a few Westerners there enjoying a glimpse into the past, before you return to the present day, recharged for the rest of your travels.
The best way to get here is by public transportation. While there are several options, I suggest the Yurikamome line. This line takes you across the Rainbow Bridge. Along the way, there is a replica of the Statue of Liberty, plenty of shopping, and a Ferris Wheel with an amazing view of the Tokyo skyline. Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari is only a two-minute walk from Telecom Center station. Entry fee is ¥2,480 to ¥1,980 (about $20 to $16) depending on what time you enter, and only slightly higher on weekends and special days. Check it out here: http://www.ooedoonsen.jp/en/top/
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