Source: Gaijin Pot
While it is the smallest and least populated of Japan’s four major islands, Shikoku is filled with a vast array of historical, cultural and natural gems. History buffs flock to the area for its ancient shrines while others come to continue the “88 temple pilgrimage.” Nonetheless, what every visitor should take the time to enjoy while on the Zen-steeped island of Shikoku is konyoku onsen, or mixed-gender bathing.
Mixed bathing has been a part of Japanese culture since the 9th century. Sadly, more and more konyoku onsen are closing their doors due to the effects of a somewhat imposed “taboo” and an increasingly negative view of mixed bathing that many younger Japanese people have due to the bad manners of (mostly male) bathers. Experiencing and supporting this dwindling breed of onsen is not only a rare treat, it’s the only way to continue this old tradition. With proper etiquette and decorum at these previous community hubs we can do our part to help ensure they stay around for generations to come!
With that, many of Shikoku’s konyoku onsen have not survived the passage of time. This list, therefore, includes many kashikiri onsen, or private rental baths, that can also accommodate mixed gender bathing while letting you soak up the best of the region with your partner, family or friends. This is another great way to experience onsen culture for those who aren’t keen on bathing with strangers.
In the last installment of our series on mixed gender onsen across Japan, here is a list of nine great onsen in this regard that you can check out while visiting Shikoku.
1. Asuka no Yu
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