Hakone Kowakien Yunessun

The weather man was right!  It was forecasted to rain during our first full day in Hakone, and the weather obliged—at least when we woke up in the morning.  We had already planned to visit the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, a hot springs amusement park and spa resort; so whether or not it was raining on our parade, we could beat it because parts of the amusement park was indoors.  The Yunessun is a mix of the traditional Japanese onsen (hot springs) and water park.  There are two parts to the Yunessun—the Yunessun is just like a regular water park with warm water, so everyone is wearing their bathing suits, and the Mori No Yu is more of a Japanese-style onsen where people can relax naked in the water.  We only experienced the Yunessun on this trip.  Call me modest, conservative, or crazy, but I don't like getting naked in front of my children—and I did not want to have to give my sons, especially my 4-year old who asks about everything, an anatomy lesson. I was initially worried that the water temperature might be too hot for the kids, but it was actually warm instead of hot.  Also, many of the pools were shallow, so the kids could walk around (and my kids are short).  

The kids distracted by the Yunesessun's mascot,
the Boxappy Family.
The Yunessun is just a short bus ride from the Fujiya Hotel, but after trying to get my bearings and confusing the bus stop (which is Kowakien on the Hakone-machi (H) line), long story short, we took a detour that led us to the Statues of Buddha beside the Shojin Pond.  The rain was pouring down that morning, so we used the visitor center as shelter while waiting for the next bus.  By the time we made it to the Yunessun, I was beyond ready to get into the onsen instead of playing with displays outside the entrance.  (On a side note, we took the bus because we purchased a 3-day Hakone Freepass, which gives unlimited usage of the bus, train, cable car, ropeway, sightseeing cruise during the time period.  It was difficult for me to keep tabs on how much we spent to see if it was a good deal, but an added benefit of the pass is that many of the businesses gave discounts when we showed the passes.  I received ¥300 off each ticket I purchased for TJ and me.)

When we first entered the Yunessun, we saw God's Aegean Sea.  We didn't try it out until later in the day, but this seemed to be the place where people brought their tubes and floated it like a river.  If I had known about it, I would have brought our tubes (must be <100 cm in diameter) with us on this trip.  The kids really enjoyed the middle part of the pool where there were seats with jets massaging your back, butt, and upper legs.  There's also a cool show where the ceiling is illuminated and after thunder and lightning, it "rains" for a bit.

We kept telling the kids that we were going to ride a pirate ship in Hakone, so it was nice that there was a pirate ship at the kiddie pool.

We took the kids to Boxappy's Yu-Yu Park first so that they could get comfortable with the water.  They really enjoyed playing in it!

The damsel in distress is too cute!  The kids would go back and forth from the pool to the pirate ship, which also spurts out water every few minutes.

We finally went outside to try the flavored onsens where each bath has its own beauty and health benefits.  TJ really enjoyed the Coffee Onsen.  That's right, coffee onsen.  It contains coffee made with the hot springs water.  It's supposed to relieve your skin from fatigue and perk up your senses.  (By the way, do you see the orange wristband that TJ is picking?  It's a digital wristband that's for a cashless payment system.  It records all of your transactions (dining, rental, etc.), and you pay at the end of your visit.) 

The Waterfall Onsen is probably my favorite outdoor onsen for the kids.  Anything where CJ, my two-year old, can walk around without having to strain his neck is a good place to be; and it was a good temperature for their friend, the three-year old redhead, who has sensitive skin.  Plus, sit on one of the rocks (that the kids are currently walking on in the photo), and the waterfall massages your upper back and head.  I could sit there all day (and pretty much did)!

The Wine Onsen is supposed to be a rejuvenation treatment for the body.  We didn't spend too much time in this onsen since it was deep for the kids. 

The Green Tea Onsen contains Catechin, an antioxident that fights tumors and enhances the immune system.  The aroma was a bit strong for me, so we didn't spend too much time in this onsen.  I like that it's like a trick art museum, though—it looks like TJ is holding the teapot!

The last, flavored bath we tried was the Sake Onsen, which is supposed to be good for the skin's beauty.

After getting wrinkly toes from sitting in the onsen all day long, we ended our day by going to the Dr. Fish foot bath at the Turkish Hamam.  Dr. Fish is the name given to the tiny fish that exfoliate your skin by nibbling the dead skin.  They only offer the foot bath every few hours, and the line is always long. While in line, we heard girls shrieking like they were riding a roller coaster, so I wasn't sure how the kids would feel about it.  Despite my kids' lack of interest in taking a photo, they really enjoyed having the fish nibble at their feet.  In fact, TJ wanted to have more fish around him.  (Guess he doesn't have that much dead skin at the young age of 3.  I looked around the foot bath, and the older you were, the more fish you had swarming at your legs and feet.)  I, on the other hand, was very excited to do it, especially because, admittedly, I don't take care of my feet very well.  I really thought that they were just going to nibble at the calluses on the bottom of my feet, but they seemed to like the back of my ankles and lower legs, too.  I didn't enjoy that part as much because it was too ticklish and somewhat unpleasant, but it was a really great way to end our day at the Yunessun.

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun
Address:  1297 Ninohira, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 250-0407, Japan
Phone:  +81-(0)460-82-4126
Website:  http://www.yunessun.com

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