In Osaka, there is a fabled place near the Tsustenkaku Tower by the name of Spa World. Do you enjoy soaking in hot water? Cold water? Sweating in a tiny room? Well, this place has you covered! Bring a swimsuit and get prepared to be naked around complete strangers, because I’m bringing you the lowdown from my trip to Spa World!
Spa World Basics
First thing’s first: Men and women do not appear naked with one another at any point during your stay at Spa World. The onsen, or spa areas, are segregated by sex, with entire floors dedicated to men and women respectively. The themed areas switch depending on the time of year, with the summertime seeing the men in the European zone and the women in the Asian zone. There is a family-friendly coed swimming pool area at the top floor, but swimsuits are mandatory.
Upon entering the main building, you have to buy your ticket from a machine (easily done) and present the ticket to the employee at the entrance turnstiles. They explain the rules and fees if you lose your keys. They then give you your main wristbands, which are used to bill you for any extra charges you accrue in the baths (more on this later). Then, you pass through, take off your shoes, and store them in a shoe locker. You’ll keep the key with you like any other onsen, but these are legit keys, no like the water-proof wristbands you initially receive. From there, you take the elevator to your respective floor and changing area. You then pick a locker to stow your clothes while you explore the themed hot spring areas.
At this point, my wife went up to Asia and I went to Europe.
There is a pretty nice degree of theming for each bath. You start in the Roman bath, wit a nice fountain spitting into a circular pool with very hot water. Continuing past this bath on the left you can find a regular steam room and an herbal steam room (I tried the herbal one and I couldn’t really tell you what herbs were in there). The next area is a Mediterranean Grotto, with the bath in this crazy rock area, completely encased to give that nice grotto feeling. There were also oxygen baths here, which were this milky white color. I couldn’t read the health benefits on the wall, but I’m sure a translated version is out there somewhere.
After the Mediterranean, there is a branch: You can either go to the Spain area or the Atlantis area. Atlantis has a normal bath with moderately hot water but the main draw is the fish tank. See, they have these areas where you can lay down in about an inch or two of water and just watch fish in a fish tank swim around. This was easily the best area in my opinion but it can be tricky to get a spot if you’re not paying careful attention. The Spain area is outside, with some regular baths and a killer waterfall if you need to work your shoulders. There’s also a bar and foot bath area where you can sit on benches, soak your feet in chamomile spa water, drink a beer, and watch some sports on TV.
Next is the Sweden/Finland area. I can’t really recall which one they chose officially but it has a cold bath here that swings from 20 C ( F) to 28 C ( F). Honestly, it’s so hot and muggy in the whole bath area that dipping into these baths was not a problem for me, but rather, a much needed relief for my overheating body. They also have these cool individual wooden bath tubs, but again, like the Atlantis lounge area, it’s hard to experience these due to their popularity. There’s also a nice salt steam room near here where you can scrub yourself with some salt and sweat it out. That was probably my favorite steam room there. Lastly is Greece, and this area, aside from the Greek-inspired statues and columns, has three baths: Two herb-blend baths and a large fruit bath in the center. I opted for the herb baths as they smelled wonderful and made me smell great after a few minutes soaking. The fruit bath rotated scents during the time I was there and that day it was cherry. I don’t think it’s always a fruit bath, but during August it definitely had some fruit… something in there to make it special.
I can’t say much about the Asia area; maybe we can visit again in the winter and I can get my take on it? My wife didn’t seem as impressed with the Asia area, so there might be a bit of an imbalance in the levels of coolness between the two. After you finish your visit, you can change back in your locker room (and enjoy a nice mini bottle of milk from a vending machine if you like! Please note: the brown milk is coffee, not chocolate, much to my disappointment) and head back to the lobby. There are also water fountains all over the place outside and inside the bath areas, so make sure you stay hydrated!
There are machines where you deposit your wristbands you received from the front and it tabulates your total due. See, while your in the sauna areas, you can get massages, spa treatments, and buy food, and you do so by charging it to your wristband. Pretty neat, huh?
Also, be aware that children under 10 can accompany their parents into the baths, regardless of sex. For example, there were one or two little girls in the men’s floor with their fathers, so don’t be caught off-guard by this.
I’d love to go again and check out the other baths. We ended up only spending two hours there but Spa World has a hotel attached and is open 23 hours a day (if you stay in the late night hours, there is an extra charge). It’s very popular, though, so expect crowds and zero privacy in the bathing areas. That’ll be pretty common at any onsen, though, so as long as you’re not bothered by that, you should be fine here, too.
Overall, an awesome find! If you have a few hours to kill and you need to relax, I’d highly recommend hitting up Spa World.