Shimane’s Tamatsukuri Onsen is famous for beautifying hot spring waters and one enormous mixed bath!
Tamatsukuri Onsen has been in use since Japan’s Nara period (710 – 794), when it was thought of as an onsen of the gods! The onsen was dubbed “Yunosuke” (湯之介) when a feudal lord from the Matsudaira clan arrived during the Edo period (1603-1868) to convalesce, and with the onsen’s growing popularity, people started managing its use.
These days the onsen is most commonly known as Tamatsukuri (玉造), which may not seem unusual if your Japanese is rusty, but it literally means “precious stone making.” Probably not what you’d expect of a hot spring! The name actually comes from the region’s history of mining and crafting, particularly using the stone agate from nearby Mt. Kasenzan. The “Yasakani no Magatama” (八尺瓊勾玉), a jewel that is famously one part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan (one of the Three Sacred Treasures), was made at Tamatsukuri Onsen―or so the legends say.
Tamatsukuri Onsen is also famous as a “bijin no yu” (美人の湯), with “beautifying waters,” and one of the most popular places to bath in the area is in the “Ryugu no Yu” (龍宮の湯) bath―Japan’s largest mixed outdoor bath! Over the past century, this open-air garden bath has become increasingly popular, and for the last decade it’s been recognized as Japan’s largest outdoor mixed bath. If the idea of a mixed bath makes you nervous, though, don’t worry! You can always borrow special bathing-wear to put on while you soak.
(For lodging guests only.)