Japanese Volcanic Sand Bath in Kagoshima
It's a bath, but it's sand?!? ... woah.
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VOLCANIC SAND BATH? YES!! Welcome to Ibusuki, Kagoshima! Recently, I traveled to Kagoshima prefecture on the bottom of Kyushu to visit this unique style of onsen. It's call “suna mushi onsen” （砂むし温泉） and it is so cool, it's hot!
This style of Volcanic Sand Bath is only in Ibusuki, Kagoshima, and if you are in Japan, it's hard to miss up a chance to be buried alive -- for good health, of course.
There are several health benefits associated to suna mushi onsen.
★ Good for the skin
★ Improves blood circulation
★ Increases your metabolism
I was told suna mushi onsen has 4 times the positive health effects as a normal onsen. That's an excellent pitch to visit!
The bath costs 1080 yen plus 120 yen for a small towel if you don't already have one. You get a yukata and locker for your things included in the price.
There is a 1-hour break period around 13:00. If you come during the break, there is a nice lounge to relax in that over looks the sea.
The sand is on average 50 to 55 degrees Celsius (~122 F) and that heat can be adjusted for children by staff called "sunakake-san" to make it cooler -- or hotter for those who can take the heat.
The recommended time limit in the sand bath is 10 minutes although I like to stay under for a little longer. You can stay as long as you like but to be honest, you can't stay over 15-20 minutes because your skin and body just can't manage it.
If you look like you're going to explode, the sunakake-san will suggest coming out from the sand.
There is no age limit although pregnant women should note that they are not permitted to take a sand bath.
How to get Ibusuki
After the sand bath, you rinse off, return to blue yukata robe and soak in an onsen to complete the experience.
The town of Ibusuki has a lot of great little restaurants and is famous for it's kurobuta pork. There are a few famous kurobuta-don restaurants by the station.
In the off-season, the area is quiet.
Getting to Kagoshima:
I flew SKYMARK airlines for 9,800 yen but ANA and JAL also fly to Kagoshima from Tokyo as well as Osaka / Kansai.
Book online and several days in advance if you'd like to save money.
Kagoshima is now linked by the Shinkansen like from Tokyo but it takes about 7-8 hours with a change of trains in either Hakata (Fukuoka).
Local trains run about once an hour and cost 1000 yen is you don't have a JR Rail Pass.
Note: you cannot use IC Cards from travel in Ibusuki. Get a paper train ticket because there is no IC Card exit.
Bus: There are night buses from Osaka, Fukuoka and Tokyo.
I recommend flying.
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