We have no doubt all heard the fairytales of about the princess kissing frogs in hopes of finding her Prince Charming and Goldilocks searching for something “just right”. Well, I can empathize with these ladies, because I too have been searching for my hearts desire…a jun Nihon fu onsen (purely Japanese style hot spring). To date I have been to three thermal baths in Japan, and none of them have satisfied my onsen fantasy. That is, until now.
Enter the Yumoto Niseko Prince Hotel Hirafutei.
It’s a mouthful, and every bite is delicious. Tucked away on the hill up to the Welcome Center is this unassuming hotel housing my favorite onsen. Upon entering I removed my winter boots and exchanged them for a pair of slippers that were inside the complimentary boot locker. This is a great start. The admission ticket (800 yen) is purchased from a vending machine and afterfter obtaining the ticket, flash it to the hotel reception and head to the change area. Removing my slippers, I placed them in the second complimentary locker and stepped foot on the floor. The clean, smooth, warm touch of the floor was unmistakably tatami. Ah, tatami, is there anything more Japanese?
The spacious change room houses a lounge area, crib, lockers, cubbies, and a large vanity stocked with every beauty product imaginable. Face cream, toner, hair serum, body lotion, hair dryers, toothbrush, combs, razors, and cotton swabs, it was like the beauty aisle in a drug store.
Entering the shower area, my ears were greeted by classical piano music playing softly over the sound system. Lovely. The showers were tastefully divided with small tiled walls, offering a level of privacy which other facilities lack. The selection of shower products was enough to entice me into trying each of them. Cooling shampoo fortified with menthol and eucalyptus and the coenzyme Q10 face wash were my top picks.
There are three hot pools; two inside, one of which has built in reclining seats, one outside, and one cold pool. To start, I chose the outdoor thermal bath. It overlooks the ski hill and is a nice place to people watch if you cannot turn your mind off whilst bathing. Just a word of caution though; you can see them, which means they can see you too, but, only if you are standing and they are on the chairlift. This is more of an issue on the men’s side where the privacy screen is almost non-existent. Anyhow, the instant I stepped into the pool, I could feel the carbon dioxide doing it’s magic on my skin and nerves.
The sauna was the icing on the cake for me; it was the perfect temperature, there were padded towels lining the cedar benches to sit on, and a large enough space to do some stretching. I cooled off by pouring a bowl of freezing cold water from the chilled pool onto my feet, and topped it off with the cooling body wash in the shower. Intense and refreshing, I felt anew.
Before leaving I dabbed on a bit of the rose facial toner; a great way to hydrate your skin after the onsen without using heavy oil based moisturizer. I do recommend giving it a try. There are vending machines selling various beverages and a communal area to meet up with your fellow bather of the opposite sex and chat about how wonderful the experience was.
If you are wanting a relaxing place to melt away your sore muscles and stresses of life, make sure to visit this onsen. Guaranteed to leave you feeling as though you have been given the royal treatment. A smile returns to my face every time I reminisce about my experience here. I have definitely found my Prince Charming.
P.S. I have visited The Prince onsen once more since posting this article, and it did not disappoint. Just a quick tip; for ultimate relaxation, slip into the small indoor pool in the seat closest to the door leading outside. While reclining in the warm pool, a crisp breeze blows across your bare skin when someone opens the door. This is truly refreshing.