Dōgo Hot Spring and Its 3,000-Year History
The Profound Appeal of the Dōgo Onsen Honkan
It Is Much More Than Just a Place to Bathe

Dōgo Onsen Honkan was built in 1984. Over the approximately thirty years thereafter, many consecutive renovations and additions were made, resulting in a complicated, labyrinth-like arrangement of rooms, hallways, and stairs. Its beautiful exterior is a spectacularly coherent mixture of architectural styles of different eras, and it has the appeal that attracts Japanese and foreign tourists alike. While on first glance, many are quick to regard it as Japanese-style architecture, it actually incorporates many western building techniques as well. The Shinrokaku, which is located at the very top of the structure, is fitted with imported glass. It glows in bright red when lit from within, creating a distinct mood. The greatest appeal of Dōgo Onsen Honkan is that it continues to stay in operation as a bathhouse rather than being converted into a museum, even though it is the first public bathhouse designated as an important national cultural asset. This modern three-story architecture has many details that can be enjoyed the closer you look. Visitors are invited to explore its charm, from both the inside and outside.

Four Bathing Packages

Dōgo Onsen Honkan has two types of bathing rooms—Tama-no-Yu and Kami-no-Yu, and offers four bathing packages. They are “Tama-no-Yu 3rd Floor Private Room,” “Tama-no-Yu 2nd Floor,” “Kami-no-Yu 2nd Floor,” and “Kami-no-Yu Downstairs.” Guests can rest in either the large hall or a private room, depending on which package they choose. After the bath, they are invited to put on a yukata and enjoy some tea—carefully prepared with water boiled over a charcoal fire—and sweets such as Botchan dango (sweet rice dumplings). After the bath, guests are also invited to view the Yūshinden, the only private bathing room made exclusively for use by the Imperial Family, and Botchan-no-Ma (“room of Botchan”), which is said to have been used by writer Natsume Sōseki, who wrote the novel Botchan

  • Kami-no-Yu 2nd Floor

    1. Kami-no-Yu 2nd Floor

    For guests who wish to leisurely relax in a large, spacious hall after the bath. Go up the staircase at the end of the first floor hallway while following the blue floor guide and you will arrive at a large 100m2 hall. Take a rental yukata and proceed to the Kami-no-Yu on the lower level. After the bath, unwind with some tea and rice crackers.

  • Tama-no-Yu 2nd Floor

    2. Tama-no-Yu 2nd Floor

    For a slightly more deluxe experience, we invite you to choose the Tama-no-Yu. The slightly smaller bathing area comparted to the Kami-no-yu contains a distinguished bath tub exquisitely constructed with marble and Aji stone, creating a tranquil atmosphere for your bathing experience. This value package also includes a viewing of the Yūshinden, the only private bathing room made exclusively for the Imperial Family.

  • Tama-no-Yu 3rd Floor Private Room

    3. Tama-no-Yu 3rd Floor Private Room

    For guests who wish to rent a private lounging room. This package includes a bath in the Tama-no-Yu and a viewing of the Yūshinden. Enjoy a soak in a tranquil bathing room, and also in the Kami-no-Yu if you so desire. Spend time of pure bliss as you enjoy some tea and Botchan dango (sweet rice dumplings) and gaze over the view of Dōgo from your private room.

  • Kami-no-Yu Downstairs

    4. Kami-no-Yu Downstairs

    Dōgo Onsen is a gensen kakenagashi-style (continuous flow from source), simple Alkaline hot spring. It is lauded for having the qualities possessed by superior hot springs, such as the feeling of the hot water on the skin, high-quality effervescence, and the refreshing feel after the bath. The yugama (fountainhead) made of Aji stone (quarried in Aji-chō, Kawaga Prefecture and prized as among the finest-grade stones) in the men’s bath is engraved with a chōka poem (a form of classical Japanese court poetry) written by Yamabe no Akahito, a poet of Manyōshū (oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry).

Tracing back 3,000 years of history

  • Legend of the Egret

    Legend of the Egret

    Legend has it that an egret was suffering from an injured leg, and upon finding a hot spring gushing out from the rocks, it flew to the hot water every day to soak its leg. Soon, the foot completely healed the bird flew away rejuvenated.

  • Legend of the Tama-no-ishi

    Legend of the Tama-no-ishi

    When the Ōkuninushi no Mikoto and Sukunabikona no Mikoto of Japanese mythology traveled to the land of Iyo, Sukunabikona suddenly fell ill. But when he soaked in the hot spring, he was healed right away. Overjoyed, he began dancing atop a rock. This story, known as “the Legend of the Tama-no-ishi,” has been passed down to this day.

  • Prince Shōtoku and Dōgo Hot Springs

    Prince Shōtoku and Dōgo Hot Springs

    In 596, when Prince Shōtoku visited the hot springs of Iyo, he felt so deeply moved by the ethereal quality of Dōgo Onsen that he wrote an inscribed poem. Seeing luxuriantly growing camellia bushes with intertwining branches, he exalted that he felt as if he were in the land of paradise.

  • Ippen Shōnin and the Yugama

    Ippen Shōnin and the Yugama

    Ippen Shōnin, who was born in Matsuyama, is said to have inscribed the six characters of “namu-amida-butsu” onto the hōju (“treasure ball”) on a stone caldron of the hot springs in 1288, upon request by military general Michiari Kōno. This hot spring caldron still exists today and is revered as Yugama Yakushi

  • After the Bath, Experience the History and Literature of Dōgo

    Yūshinden—the Only Bathing Room in Japan Reserved for the Imperial Family

    Yūshinden—the Only Bathing Room in Japan Reserved for the Imperial Family

    The Dōgo Onsen Honkan can boast itself to the rest of Japan for having the Yūshinden, Japan’s only bathing room reserved for the Imperial family. The name Yūshinden was taken from classical Chinese literature. Of the abovementioned bathing packages, guests who purchase the “Tama-no-Yu 3rd Floor Private Room” and “Tama-no-Yu 2nd Floor” packages are invited to view this special bathing room. Other guests can also choose to pay for a Yūshinden viewing separately.

    道後パワースポット「玉の石」

    Dōgo’s Power Spot: Tama-no-Ishi

    The legendary Tama no ishi—the rock on which Sukunabikona no Mikoto is said to have danced—is kept at the north side of Dōgo Onsen Honkan. It is believed that, by making a wish while pouring hot water over the Tama no ishi, the wish will reach the gods. As such, the rock is reverently called oyukake-kigan-no-ishi (“rock for hot water-pouring wishes”). It is considered effective especially for recovery from illnesses. Pay a visit after your bath and pour hot spring water while making a wish.

    Botchan Dango served at Dōgo Onsen Honkan

    Botchan Dango served at Dōgo Onsen Honkan

    The Botchan dango originated from the yuzarashi dango, which are simple rice cakes coated with sweet bean paste. Natsume Sōseki, one of the most prominent writers of Japan, enjoyed eating them often after a soak at Dōgo Onsen. They eventually transformed into a set of dango (sweet rice dumplings) that came in three colors of sweet azuki beans, egg, and matcha green tea, and they were the precursor to the Botchan dango we see today. The Botchan dango are included in the “Tama-no-Yu 3rd Floor Private Room” package. Have a taste while envisioning what Dōgo Onsen was like in Sōseki’s time.

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