Hu no Yu, the website boasts, is the only bath in Japan where you can ‘savour the atmosphere of the airport’. Indeed, they go so far as to admit that they are ‘brimming with the atmosphere of the aircraft’.
You’ll be glad to know that far from recreating that magical feeling of the eighteenth hour in a twenty-three hour flight, Hu no Yu is just a pretty average public bath with the unusual view of an international airport’s runways. Instead of recordings of running water and chirping birds, at Hu no Yu there is the real life rumbling of jumbo jets. And it works a lot better than you might think.
Hu no Yu is not a big public bath. There’s the ubiquitous sauna and accompanying cold water bath, three reclining baths with pleasant but not powerful massage jets, a very bubbly jacuzzi and a ‘vibration’ bath – the coy designation given in English to the electric bath. From the scenic bath you can watch planes land and take off, and watch the ships move about in Ise Bay. If you want a closer look, head out to the Observation Deck. A wooden hut keeps you from flashing the pilots, with only a small gap at eye level to allow you to demurely peep out.
This is the only public bath I’ve ever been to that not only welcomes foreigners but is also set up for them. All the signs are in several languages, including English. It is also incredibly kid-friendly, who love watching the planes. For the adults, its probably too noisy and lively a bath for it to be deeply relaxing, but I came out feeling restored and with that warm and fuzzy feeling that only a public bath can give.
Whether you are seeing someone off at the airport or heading somewhere yourself, make the time to stop for a bath. It will refresh both your body and your mind.
Getting There: If you don’t fly in, then take the Meitetsu Line to the airport (about half an hour from Nagoya; 850 yen one way). It’s on the fourth floor tucked away on the right hand edge of the Japanese side.
Opening Hours: 8 am-10 pm (last entry 9 pm). Open until 6 pm every third Wednesday (last entry 5 pm).
Price: 1000 yen, includes loan of a bath towel and a hand towel.
Services: Soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided. Free hairdryers. All lockers are free. Japanese style dining hall. Attached is a ‘Refresh Salon’ where you can get massages and aromatherapy treatments.
As this is in an airport, there are plenty of other facilities – places to eat, shops and so on – within easy reach.
First bath in Japan? Don’t worry, the assistants are well used to foreigners and speak a little English as well. At the entrance, take off your shoes and put it in a locker. Get a ticket from the vending machine (press the 1000 yen one, blue for boys and pink for girls.) Give the locker key and the ticket to the staff at the front desk, and they’ll give you your towels and a locker key. Go through to the correct changing rooms, find your locker and strip off. If you must take a towel through, take the small one and don’t put it in the water. Wash thoroughly before you get into the baths. When you leave, hand back your towels and the locker key and you’ll get the key for your shoes back.