Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama on Shikoku is Japan's oldest hot spring (onsen), having been mentioned in the 1,300 year old Nihon-shoki.
The onsen was supposedly discovered when a heron was seen healing itself in the waters and the heron is a constant motif in the building with a statue of the bird on the roof, too.
Dogo Onsen's sulphuric waters are deemed to be effective in curing a number of ailments including rheumatism.
The ornate Dogo Onsen Honkan houses two different baths (the larger Kami-no-yu and Tama-no-yu) and there are a variety of courses available, depending of price. A pamphlet in English explains the different options and the bathing procedure.
The building also includes a private imperial bath (Yushinden) which can be visited as part of a guided tour.
Dogo Onsen became known throughout the country after it was mentioned in Natsume Soseki's novel Botchan and a constant stream of Japanese tourists test its waters every day.
For a more authentic local onsen experience the Tsubaki-no-yu down the arcade to your left is an annex of main bath with a largely elderly set of patrons.
Dogo Onsen Honkan
5-6 Dogo Yunomachi
Tel: 089 921 5141
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