Next time someone asks me what’s a good place to visit in Tokyo, I’m answering, “Oedo Onsen in Odaiba!”
Usually, I dislike places too commercialized and catered to tourists, but not so with this place. They get it right, combining a fun, relaxing, and exciting atmosphere in the perfect get-away-combo.
(Sorry about the bad angles of some of these photos. My camera was running low on power so I had to take quick shots.)
It’s like the Disney Land of Hot Springs, and unfortunately it does include large crowds.
We stood here waiting for over 30 minutes to get in. The lines went out the door. Apparently, we arrived at right before 6pm and the prices go on discount so everyone was waiting for that. One downside about this place is they are not very good at crowd control.
If you look at the picture above, you can see the area where you take off your shoes. Everyone just lumps together there. We waited for 20 minutes to remove our shoes. They did not separate people with small children, and this is a very bad idea. I’m surprised a toddler hasn’t gotten stepped on yet.
The mother in front of me had two small children. Although she let them sit on the steps and knew they’d have to remove their shoes when we were allowed to move, she just waited, never taking their shoes off before hand.
The minute the crowd of over forty was given the all clear, a mad scramble began for everyone to pull of their shoes, rush to a shoe locker, and then race into line for their tickets. That’s forty people pushing forward, trying to be first after standing around for twenty minutes.
Despite knowing what would happen, the mother in front of me decided it would be a good idea to plop down, dead-center, in front of this crowd, with her toddler on one side and small child on the other and then begin taking off their shoes. I was forced to step over her toddler, and she glared at me like I was the bad guy.
I met her glare with a look of “I’m sorry, you’re stupid”. I could not stop, the crowd was shoving me forward at that point, it was step over the child or fall on the kid. She’s lucky her kids didn’t get injured with her poor choice. Don’t plant toddlers in a narrow space that bottlenecks a large number of people squeezing to get in.
Ultimately, the onsen staff are at fault for this poor crowd control. My friend S, afterwards, said to me, “I can’t believe children aren’t getting hurt in that.”
Other than that, this place is awesome.
After you stuff away your shoes, you wait in line to get your wrist band that has a bar code. Every time you purchase something, the bar code gets scanned and you pay at the end when you leave. Very nifty.
After getting your wristband, you go to pick out the Yukata you want to wear.
I chose Number Five, the pink and purple one that you can see in the upper center.
I matched with a mustard yellow obi, or belt.
S helped me tie up the obi, and then I returned the favor for hers. You can see S’s foot to the right of this shot and a hint of her grey obi. She actually wanted on of the male yukata’s, because they suited her tastes, but she had to choose from the females.
After we secured our valuables in the locker, we headed out to the common area from the women’s changing room. This is where the men and women can reunite and wander around playing games like ninja star throwing, or choose from a variety of food and drink vendors.
Very fun area. There is free water and tea served hear and you can plot down on any of the tatami mats or tables and just relax. The atmosphere is quite lively, much like this display.
Eventually, we headed for the bathing areas were the men and women must once more separate.
There was a rule posted that any child older than 9 must enter the bathing are of their sex. But I wonder how they could prove that? Some children look really young for their age.
I actually agree with this rule. Sometimes mothers bring in boys that area way too old for the women’s bathing area and it can feel very uncomfortable because the boys are staring to notice “women” and they stare (often at me because I stand out).
The onsen also says “no tattoos”, but I saw more than a few women wandering around with tattoos. No one said anything.
There are probably too many people to really raise a fuss and I think this onsen is full of tourists and in an urban area so most don’t really care. I even saw a couple western women with tattoos on their ankles and shoulders who walked right past the “No tattoo” sign. They left a little before me, but no one bothered them.
I wonder if it’s mainly just to keep the yakuza out. One staff member walked right past a western woman with a clear tattoo on her shoulder, even glanced in her direction, and just went right on about her chore.
Once we finished bathing we stopped for butter caramel ice cream and I got ginger ale which came in a really beautiful bottle.
What a lovely way to end the day. I highly recommend this place, just be prepared for the mad scramble for a shoe box in the beginning.