The Sankei Shimbun, JAPAN Forward

In the Yubara Hot Spring village near Maniwa City, northern Okayama Prefecture, operators of the mixed-gender outdoor hot spring Sunayu are considering providing special bathing suits for men. It’s a countermeasure against guests who ignore the rule of covering one’s body with a towel when bathing.

There is also a proposal for the strategic placement of monitoring staff to prevent the unwanted sight of full-body nakedness.

Sunayu is located directly below Yubara Dam. The hot spring is called Sunayu (sand spring) because, along with the spring water, sand spews out from the riverbed.

It is a public open-air hot spring, maintained regularly by the general incorporated Yubara Sightseeing Association, comprised of staff from the local area and city.

At Sunayu, visitors can soak in the hot spring and enjoy the view of the dam any time of the day, free of charge. The website boasts that the hot spring was chosen as “the Yokozuna of the West” for its high-quality water by a travel author in his Japan Open-air Hot Spring rankings.

Sunayu has been a popular destination as a mixed-gender outdoor hot spring for many years. In consideration of its wide variety of visitors, a rule was established in 2014 requiring those using the bath to cover their lower body with a towel or swimsuit. Recently, though, there has been a rise in complaints about bathers who breach etiquette by not covering their lower body.

However, using an ordinary bath towel to cover one’s body can be inconvenient. Towels can become heavy and cling to the body when they absorb water. As a solution, Yubara Tourism Association collaborated with Wacoal (Kyoto) to design and introduce special bathing suits for women in June 2014. These polyester bathing suits are water repellent and can be purchased or rented at nearby inns.

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By - Ben K.