As I grow older, I start to get more and more confident in traveling alone. It started with a solo airplane ride to Europe, then a solo day tour in Ireland. Then it was a few lonely days (not night) in Seoul, and a couple more days in Hong Kong.. and now it’s finally a 2D1N (less than 24 hours) escape to Tokyo >_<
So I stared researching on the conventional hotels and hostels which were not very attractive to me. The cheaper options were not near the subway stations and the nearer ones, mainly hostels, only have mixed dorms. Initially, I wanted to stay in a capsule hotel since it was something uniquely Japan but I later found out that capsule hotels are majority a men’s thing. There are only one or two places that accepts females but the reviews are not there yet. (Trying out a capsule hotel is still on my list of things to do..)
While thinking about the various options available for me, I suddenly remembered my hotspring experience in Dragon Hill Spa where I spent 1 night in Korea. Thankfully, Japan has such bathhouses too and I shortlisted two – Spa LaQua 2634+1944Y (Tokyo Dome) and Oedo Onsen Spa 2180+2000Y (Odaiba).
In the end, I chose Oedo Onsen Spa as it looks really fun, with a carnival vibe. Furthermore, it was situated in Odaiba, this island which looks kind of fanciful. Initially, the plan was to visit SkyTree after the concert ends, and then proceed to Diver City in Odaiba to take photo of the mega Gundamn statue. All these plans fell through when the concert dragged on to 4 hours. It was a bittersweet feeling when reality sunk but I could not make the SkyTree plans possible as it was too late.
Odaiba is not a cheap place to venture to. A one-way ticket from Shimbashi to Telecom Centre cost 380Y; and that’s 760Y for two-ways! If I add this cost into my decision-making, Oedo Onsen would be even more expensive than Spa LaQua!
When i was at the ticketing machine at Shimbashi, one kind man wanted to pass me his day pass ticket at but sadly, I’ve already bought my ticket =( Although the plan was to visit Diver City & Gundam & shop a little before heading over to the Onsen, I was kind of battery flat as I have not eaten dinner nor have a good sleep the night before. Being out of the house since 6am and standing for almost 4 hours was really tiring; thus I headed straight to the Onsen.
1. Getting to Oedo Onsen Spa
Getting into Odaiba was a fanciful experience. You get to travel in a driver-less Light Rail which will commute underneath this majestic and grand Rainbow Bridge. The ride from Shimbashi to Telecom Centre was approximately 20 to 30 minutes long and you should be able to see the Ferris Wheel at Palette Town, or even the 18-metre tall Gundam, from the light rail. If you could, take the front seat to enjoy better views!
The Onsen is located within 3 minutes walk from Telecom Centre Station. It should be pretty obvious as people stopping at the station, usually walks over to that place. By the way, they also provide free bus shuttle (read guide in Japanese), and yes the queue line below outside the building is the queue line.
2. Remove your footwear and store in Shoe Locker
Upon entering the building, you will see a raised flooring and rows of cabinets towards your left. Remove your footwear (benches are provided at the side), before stepping up to the raised flooring. Look for an empty locker (with a key on the outside) and put your shoes inside. You won’t be needing your shoes until you checkout. My Timberland Highcut classic boots fit perfectly inside. However, if you’re wearing knee-high boots, I don’t think it will fit. Maybe you will need one locker per boot.
3. Queue up and Register
After removing your shoes, walk towards the counter and queue up. This place is quite popular so there’s usually a queue. The staff at the counter will inform you on the entry rates (evening discounted price – 2,180Y) and that if you do not leave by 2am, there would be an extra 2,000Y late night surcharge. You don’t have to pay anything at this point in time. They will give you a wristband (with a key and number which indicates your changing room locker). You can also collect an English map of the compound. By the way, it will be a cashless transaction inside the compound and every single expenditure can be made by scanning the bar code on your wristband.
4. Collect your Yukata and belt/sash
After collecting your wristband, you can collect your Yukata (light cotton Kimono) at the adjacent counter. There are kids and plus sizes too, so not to worry. Yes you will have to choose 1 out of the 6 choices, I just went with feel and I ended up choosing the purple and pink one, with a red belt. You can mix and match the Yukata and colour of the belt/sash in any combination.
5. Enter Changing Room
After collecting your Yukata, you enter the gender-segregated changing room: Female => Pink/Red Cloth, Male => Blue. Look for your assigned locker number and open the locker with the key attached to the wristband. Thankfully, I was given a locker at the corner and on the top row. It’s a little more secluded and convenient.
In this locker, you will store your bag and clothes and change into your Yukata. Yes you change your clothes right in front of your locker. There are no free individual private rooms around for changing. (If you are really shy, you can opt for a private room with onsen experience in a private bath tub if you are willing to pay more) By the way, you are supposed to wear your underwear inside your Yukata. In the changing room, you can find instructions on how you should wear your Yukata. FYI: Ribbon goes to the back.
Once you are done, you can proceed to the Main Hall (not gender segregated).
6. Enter Main Hall
Exiting the changing room leads you to the main hall. This area is not gender segregated and it is usually bustling with activities. There are F&B stores, free flow of water, green/barley tea (hot and cold), an arcade, game stores and many photo taking spots. It is themed to look like a traditional Japanese carnival.
7. Entering the Bath House and Spa
Follow the colours to your gender-segregated Bath House (duh!) and you will be in for some nudity.
My first experience in an onsen was four years ago (2011), during a tour in Hokkaido. Back then, I hugely resisted against the idea as the thought of nudity was really uncomfortable. After countless convincing from the tour guide and mum-pressure, I eventually gave in and had my first onsen experience. It was.. really awkward, but the after-effects on your skin is amazing. We eventually went for 2 more onsens experience that trip.
My second brush with public nudity was totally unexpected and unplanned. We were at Caribbean Bay, a water themepark in Seoul, which was then-endorsed by Nichkhun. Never in my mind did I expect the bathing area to be public =s It was even more awkward as we were with.. friends? Anyway, we later on visited the Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa together, and I guess I was slowly getting out of my comfort zone?
Initially, I did resist against staying overnight at a Spa because of the potential nudity but I later firmed up on my decision because (a) I was alone – lesser awkwardness (b) Hot Spring waters really bring wonders to your skin & (c) I wanted to write about a different 1 night experience in Tokyo. Yes, for my readers (You!) -> I braced through the entire uncomfortable experience again. (It’s not that I don’t like it. I like soaking in the hot water but I still feel very uncomfortable being naked in front of other naked people)
Once you enter the bathhouse, there are countless signs reminding you that cameras/camera phones are not allowed. So no more pictures, just words!
The moment you enter, naked people will be strutting around, walking here and there like no big deal. Keep Calm and walk to the rows of lockers inside the bathhouse. Select an empty one (with the key sticking outside), stripe naked and store your Yukata & everything else inside. Grab two towels (one small, one large) from the towel counter and enter the bathing area.
8. Bathe before entering the hot spring
You can wrap yourself with a towel and walk in and probably get stared at as no one will do that. Otherwise, just remain focus on your objective and disregard everything else and enter the hot spring/bathing area. Look for an unoccupied bathing “cubicle”, which will come with a stool, a pail, a shower head, shampoo/soap/hair conditioner, foot scrub and mirror. Place your towels at the dividers to prevent it from getting wet.
Take your time and wash yourself using the free shampoo and soap. Sometimes, you can chance upon the Horse Oil products which is supposed to be very good. I managed to chance upon them from another cubicle later on. After you are done bathing, tie up your hair using a rubber tie or the small towel and you are all ready to enter the hot spring/tubs (totally naked!).
9. Entering the Hot Spring Pools
The rule of thumb is that you can only bring 1 small towel with you when you enter the water. You can use it to cover whatever you want but.. you will just give up after 5 minutes. Seriously no one cares and feels awkward and the more you try to hide, the more they might urm, stare.
Forget about the images you see on Japan Hour, the hot springs you get in urban city center will be like Jacuzzi or miniature indoor swimming pools.
I went into one pool that had this mirky white water. No idea what properties the water contained but I soaked myself there for a good 5 to 10 minutes. In all honesty, it was very boring to be alone as almost everyone else had company. I guess coming to bathhouses are usually a family/friends affair.. I could only stone and space out, staring at the clock (to make sure that I don’t overstay in a pool more than 15 minutes). Having no one to talk to, having no one to listen to, having no handphone and furthermore being unable to eavesdrop any conversations due to language barrier.. it was quite an unbearable wait. On the hind sight, I had perfect eyesight after my LASIK last year, which means that I am in clear view of everything.. as compared to my experience 4 years ago :/ Hiding in the milky pool feels slightly more comfortable as I know people can’t see my body =p
After an arduous wait in the 40-50 something degrees water, it is time to explore the outdoor pools! Even though the outdoor temperature is about 10 degrees, your body should be already heated enough to brave the few seconds of walk before you enter the rocky-terrain pool outside.
The outside bath is usually quieter and the water is clear :/ I had the entire pool to myself for at least 5 minutes. The dual-temperature feeling was special. Your head would be cold and your body would be warm. I was playing with the mist from my breathe for like twenty seconds.
After a while, I got bored and went to soak myself in the wooden tubs for fun. Thankfully, there was an empty one and I laid all the way down so that no one could enter and share it with me. Then again, I don’t think any stranger would.. share? In the other tubs, they all had at least 2 to 3 people in it.. No idea how they can be so comfortable in their naked selves within so close proximity.. but then again, they grew up with such culture..
Ironically, the noise drove me away from this area. There was too much giggling and teasing and playing from the other tubs surrounding me and I felt out of place (right.. I was just complaining about feeling bored and lonely).
I went back to the indoor pools, this special one in the middle with yellowish or rather amber-tinted/gold water. Forced myself to remain still for at least 7 minutes before ending my entire hot spring experience. Since it was quieter in that pool, I could relax a little more and let my thoughts run wild for a few moments, while staring at the time (which moves at an extraordinary slow speed).
My hot spring experience ended with another bath/shower (with Horse Oil). After which, I walked back to the changing area, grab a new set of towels, dried myself and get change back into the Yukata.
10. Outdoor Foot Spa
Not wanting to lose any possible value of my entrance ticket, I rushed to the outdoor foot spa which was closing at 12. Since it was cold, they provided an extra jacket to wear over the Yukata. Once again, didn’t really feel cold as my body was probably heated already. By the way, you walk barefooted in the entire compound, including the outdoor area which could be quite rough.
This area is not gender segregated and couples can soak their feets together, while resting on the rocks/seats surrounding the rock-terrain stream. The water was warm and comfortable, and the dual-temperature felt good. Its depth was slightly above ankle-deep. You will have to pull and fold your yukata properly, so that it wouldn’t get wet.
Found a place and sat down, together with my only company – handphone (with data plan). Once again, yes I was the only one that was alone. I bet they must be wondering why this chinese-looking girl was at an onsen alone. (I don’t think I look Japanese at all).
Growling stomach ended my foot spa session. I haven’t eaten since 1PM (Sashimi @ Tsukiji) and now it’s 12 midnight already :/
11. Eating in the Food Hall
There were limited options at midnight and I can’t remember why I settled for this chicken dish. It was quite an average dish, with over dosage of tasty territyaki sauce. 930Y for that? No problem, just scan my wristband and worry later. I drank a lot of cups of Barley/Rice tea to regain all the water that I have lost while in the hot spring, and also to make myself full.
I guess I was more tired than hungry that night..
Tempted to play but no feel that night..
12. Finding a Place to Sleep
Alright so from my research, there is this resting room which exists within the compound. It is located at the second floor. If you are male, there’s an additional sleeping area beside the food place. If I am not wrong, it is a tatami concept and you have to sleep on the floor. Anyway, the access to the resting rooms is via a stairs at the left side of the bath house entrance.
You will see a row of massage chairs, and two rooms that you can enter. The smaller room is a female-only room, while the other one is mixed. I tried to get a space in the female-only room (the image below) but unfortunately it is full.
So I walked over to the mixed room, which looks kind of full as well. Thankfully I decided to walk one round around the room and I found this one empty space. It was beside a snoring uncle and a female teenager playing with her iPad. Since it was a choice of no choice, I took the space and snuggled up and attempt to make myself as comfortable as possible. By the way, a blanket is provided on the seat and there’s also an individual TV screen attached to every seat. I channel-surfed a little but there wasn’t any english channels. Temperature-wise, it was kind of hot as they don’t turn on any air-conditioning since it was still cold outside. I used the 心静自然凉 mentality and forced myself to sleep. To be honest, it is not exactly ideal for a night’s rest as you are sleeping on a 60 degrees reclined armchair, which comes with a foot rest. However, I am an easy sleeper who can sleep anytime and anywhere. Falling asleep despite all the snoring wasn’t a big issue for me. The heat was a greater problem. Set my alarm, hanged my phone on a lanyard over my neck and went to sleep. Woke up at least 3 times to check the time throughout my 5-6 hours sleep. Alarm vibrated at 6:15am and I exited my armchair quietly. Most of the people were still sleeping when I left.
13. Morning Washup & Make Up Table
When I walked past the bathhouse, I was contemplating very badly on whether I wanted to go for another dip in the hot spring pools but I decided to give it a miss as my eyes could barely open since it was so early >_< . Went back to the changing room lockers and take my toothbrush and facial wash. Found a sink in the nursery room and used it but.. I think people were staring at me :/ I’m not sure where is the correct place to brush your teeth. Maybe it was at the toilet but it was situated at the other side. Hmm. After which, I decided to do what all Japanese women do in the morning – Taking forever to do up your face. They have an area, dedicated to having individual make-up counters, fully equipped with a chair, a big mirror, hair dryer, power plugs (for your personal hair straightener/curlers) and some even come with sinks! Well, I don’t exactly put on a lot of make up.. and neither did bring much stuff with me on this 1-night stay. So.. I happily displayed everything that I have in my pouch on the table – 5 items – BB Cream, Powder, Eye Brow, Eye Shadow & Lipstick. I took my own sweet time to dabble my multiple layers of my Sulwhasoo Sample-pack BB Cream, comb and blow my hair etc. I look to my left, the girl beside me had at least 10 items on her table, including the hair straightener. I look to my right, the girl had some roller thing on her fringe. As much as I tried to take my own sweet time, I barely took 15 minutes. When I left my seat, there was a queue of 3 to 5 girls waiting for the next available table. Whoops.
14. Change out of Yukata and Exit
So once you are ready to leave, you change out of the Yukata and throw the used Yukata to the return basket. Leave the changing room and go back to the reception area where we started from yesterday. Queue up and return them your wristband and they will inform you of the final bill. Pay up and you will receive an exit tag which you will have to surrender to the staff at the exit before you leave.
As it was too early in the morning (8am), the shuttle bus wasn’t available so I had to pay 380Y for the expensive Light Rail back to Shimbashi Station.
I was able to take the front row seat this time round and the view was really good. This is the view of the Oedo Onsen, as seen from the Light Rail.
There’s this interesting ship on land building which turns out to be a museum of Maritime Science. Would love to visit it in future as I have previously visited the Sun Cruise Resort in JeongDongJin and the Pacific Hotel in Batam, of which both were themed and shaped like a cruise.
Below, you can see Gundam, in front of Diver City. Fuji TV building is the one behind with the sphere.
And here you see the Statue of Liberty, an icon of Odaiba, apart from the Gundam.
The Ferris wheel at Palette town, beautiful backdrop for many dramas.
Rainbow bridge once again, Tokyo Tower (red and white) in the background.
As it was a Sunday morning, though it was like 8am, the incoming train was packed with people!!
Alright that’s all for my one night stay in Tokyo. If you’re unsure of where to head to for your stay in Tokyo, or if you’re looking for a different experience, do try Oedo Onsen for a Japanese experience!
Also, if you’re 100% sure of putting this into your itinerary, why not book your ticket online at Klook (collection of the ticket has to be done at Haneda/Narita Airport) and enjoy almost 40% OFF walk-in rates? If you’re a first time user of KLOOK, use my referral link and receive a new user discount!
Check out the other entries:
- JR Pass – To buy or not to buy & other train tips
- Tokyo – Tsukiji Fish Market
- Tokyo – Tokyo Dome and SHINee World Concert Special Edition in Tokyo Dome
- One night in Tokyo – Oedo Onsen Spa
- Half Day in Kyoto – Yasaka Shrine + Kiyomizudera
- Universal Studios Japan Express 5 – March 2015
- Free bicycle rental in Himeji + Kobe
- Osaka Aquarium
- Eating & Shopping in Osaka