Nishiwaki City - 西脇市

Kanbe no Yu

Japanese Name: 官兵衛の湯Prefecture: HyogoCity: KatoAddress: 兵庫県西脇市鹿野町255番2Type: SupersentoWebpage: ¥650Holiday: WednesdayHours: 10:00-22:00
ReviewRural supersento. Used to be called Heso no Yu but has changed names and, I think, ownership. I have not returned here since the name/ownership change.
Old review: Heso no Yu has one natural well bath plus two onsen meguri baths give you 3 different bathing experiences in one place. Onsen meguri could be translated as "hot spring tour," which is where the baths are filled with normal water that is made to feel like that of various famous onsen from around Japan. I assume it is done by adding some something to the bath water, but truthfully, I do not know. The water could be tanked in as some places do. This is very common for places that do not have access to a good hot spring at their site. I'm going to ignore the onsen meguri for the point of this review, those two baths were fine and very refreshing but they change every month. The large outdoor bath was filled with what is billed as natural spring water, but I did not see a sign anywhere with the report on the water's mineral content, pH, well temperature or anything like that. While the water was fine, not telling me exactly what's in the water seems shady. I have one magazine that says this place does not have a natural hot spring well (天然温泉じゃないけど...). I should have, but I didn't ask the lady at the counter if it was or not. Natural spring or not it had that great hard, tight feeling on the skin.
I was in the wood side (木の湯) which I found to be very well built. The wood used to line the baths and decorate was clean and beautiful. It had the rural supersento atmosphere, but it didn't suffer from poor construction that some places do. The bottom of the baths were lined with large stones set with thick grout that felt great to sit on and the walkways were tiled with smooth pea sized pebbles that massaged my feet as I walked. I really liked the layout and over all design of the baths. The saunas had a concept behind them, but failed to truly realize their potential. The normal sauna lacked a TV, something that I like, and in it's place it had a large picture window. Sadly, this window looked out onto a wall. There was ample place between the window and wall to put a garden or something to look at, but all that was there was a small stone pagoda that sat uneven on top of some gravel and an extension cord. The salt sauna had a window looking out at the rotenburo, but it was too cramped with only 4 chairs seemingly pulled from the restaurant next door to sit on. A stone bench would have been much more welcoming.
I really enjoyed the construction of the bathing areas. Thick wood beams supporting the roof, and Japanese style plaster covering the walls. Everything looked well built, with the exception of the saunas. The garden, was stark due to the lack of leaves on the trees, but come spring I could imagine it being quite beautiful and I want to come back in the spring or summer to see.
The locals there seemed very happy. The children in the bath were having fun, but well mannered. The area Heso no Yu is located is somewhat troubling, however. It's in a very industrial part of town with some worse for wear roads leading to it. I crossed a very old looking single track bridge in my car to get there which was mildly unnerving.There are not many trains heading to Nishiwaki so be careful and make sure you know what time you have to leave if you come by public transportation.