Onsen are great (once you get past the nakedness of it all), a wonderful tradition to experience; but there is another aspect of the Japanese bathing world which less tourists are likely to have tried, the deluxe super sento. A sento is a set of public baths, where families traditionally have gone for their daily bath and to enjoy each other’s company. The modern super sento is a bathhouse with extra luxuries, such as massage chairs, libraries, and aroma therapy.
Fukuoka Now was invited to the pre-opening tour of the Teriha Spa Resort, now the largest super sento in Kyushu, with the widest variety of spa experiences available. Located in Island City, a relatively new development built on reclaimed land in Fukuoka City, the spa is a mere 20 minutes from the city center, and is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Once you’ve signed up for your package (just entry to the baths or all inclusive), you get a choice of several fetching spa outfits. After picking your design and un/dressing in the nicely designed, fully equipped changing rooms on the third floor, you can enjoy the hot stone spa. These are elegantly themed rooms of different temperatures, and each has a specific purpose according to the type of rocks used. One room is filled with stone beds, some of which were composed of smooth planes of stone, and others of loose rocks, all of which are good for the circulation and for speeding up your metabolism. The hottest room was a staggering 70℃, and we weak gaikokujin could barely step into it. For those with inner penguins (as opposed to inner lizards), the Silver Crystal Cavern (ginhyo-dou) is a soothing 12℃, decorated with Swarovski crystals, and will apparently improve your blood circulation. Before even setting your foot into one of these rooms, however, it’s recommended that you warm it up in the agate stone foot bath; this apparently enhances the beneficial effects of all the other spa rooms, since it is designed to relieve you of stress and anxiety. Unlike the baths, these rooms are mixed, so a good place to enjoy with spouses/children/friends of the opposite sex.
This might be the ideal time to take a break; relax on one of the massage chairs and read a manga from their extensive comic library, or watch TV on a squishy bean bag. You can order snacks and drinks from the sack bar, including gourmet popcorn and Smirnoff lemonade in a jar. Alternatively, you can nip down to the mini-arcade, which has popular games such as taiko (a Japanese drumming game).
Now it’s time for the baths themselves. With eight kinds of outdoor baths, and nine varieties of indoor baths, the choice is almost overwhelming! Choose from ceramic tubs, high-density carbon jet pools, vivid pink aroma pools, and more. Each pool displays its exact temperature on a digital screen, which is a great talking point/allows for more pinpoint precise bragging once you get back home.
For those who want a little bit of privacy/an aversion to everyone seeing areas that the sun hardly ever gets to see, then private baths are available. Each of these rooms comes with an indoor and outdoor pool, plus a lounge area with sofa and TV. You can rent the rooms for a half hour or an hour at a time, and they’re very popular with families.
If you feel the need to get a bit active, there’s also a fitness studio where you can use the running and cycling machines, or take a pilates class. There are also several massage services working within the building, and you can even try acupuncture (these require extra fees).
All this relaxing and gentle steaming can really take it out of you, so it’s just as well, that there are several restaurants within the building. Pick from some reviving ramen, delicate sashimi or fluffy bakery goods.
What is perhaps one of the most interesting points of this spa is that it is also a capsule hotel of sorts. You can stay in one of their bedroom units (called ‘Private Cabin’), which, for the average unit, is simply a bed (with a big squishy duvet and crisp white linen) and TV. It is possible to upgrade to a room with actual floor space (if you go in for that sort of thing). This makes the spa a great place to stay if you’re only in the city for one or two nights, and want a very Japanese sleeping experience.
This complex is so much more than just a place to scrub off the day, you’ll be scrubbing off years!
Teriha Spa Resort opens Saturday, August 8.
With membership: Adults: ¥1,500 (weekday)/¥1,600 (weekend), ES: ¥1,000 (weekday)/¥1,100 (weekend)
Without membership: Adults: ¥1,600 (weekday)/¥1,700 (weekend), ES: ¥1,100 (weekday)/¥1,200 (weekend)
Entry to Baths Only:
With membership: Adults: ¥750 (weekday)/¥800 (weekend), ES: ¥400 (weekday)/¥500 (weekend)
Without membership: Adults: ¥800 (weekday)/¥850 (weekend), ES: ¥450 (weekday)/¥550 (weekend)
Family Bath (private):
With membership: 60 mins: ¥3,800 (weekday)/¥3,850 (weekend), 30 mins: ¥1,900 (weekday)/¥1,900 (weekend)
Without membership: 60 mins: ¥3,900 (weekday)/¥3,950 (weekend), 30 mins: ¥1,950 (weekday)/¥1,950 (weekend)
Standard: ¥3,400, Deluxe: ¥3,900, Deluxe Wide: ¥4,400
• 8/8 (Sat.) 10:00 Grand open
• Mon. ~ Sun., open 24 hours
• Private Cabin: Check in at 15:00, check out at 10:00.
• 5-2-15 Teriha, Kashii, Higashi-ku (on Island City)
• Access: about 20 min. from both Tenjin and Hakata by car.
• Free shuttle bus from Chihaya Station (7 per day) and Hakata Station. (12 per day)
Web site: http://www.terihaspa.jp/