Oedo-Onsen Monogatari
Aomi: Onsen
Oedo-Onsen Monogatari: Aomi
Aomi / Onsen
Open 11am-9am (enter by 7am) daily.
Adults: Y2900; children: Y1600
Average visit time: 1-3 hours
Reservations can be made online (in Japanese).

If Tokyo Disneyland had a 'Onsen-land' section this is what it might look like.

"Soak in the ambiance of old Edo town life at one of Japan's largest onsen hot spring resorts." says the pamphlet.

This pricey onsen caters mostly for day-tripper young couples on Odaiba dates, and tourists staying in the upscale hotels nearby. Still, you get much more than the normal onsen experience - with beauty salons, massage, gift shops, restaurants and bars as well as the usual indoor baths, outdoor baths and assorted saunas.

Plus you get the whole faux-historical experience - everything from attendants in period costume to Edo noodle shops to woodblock print murals on the bathhouse walls. Don't expect much English in the samurai period signs. Although, if the yukata-clad Edo-townspeople chatting on their mobile phones don't burst your samurai bubble, the personal TVs stuck to the chairs in the "relaxation room" probably will.

If you're accustomed to regular Japanese hot springs, be warned that the drill is slightly different here. Choose from among nineteen different styles of yukata before you head into the first set of changing rooms. When we visited Oedo-onsen, the attendant loudly reminded us to keep our underwear on beneath our yukata "as there will be women outside in the central section."

All you need in the central Edo-street section is one hundred yen for the bathhouse locker. Any shopping or food and drink can be put on a tab by using the barcode on your entrance pass. Towels will be provided.

One advantage of this unique, if somewhat plastic, onsen experience is that couples and groups can meet up in between taking the waters. The central section has plenty of restaurants, bars, noodle and pancake stalls. Amorous bathers can play footsie in the outdoor foot baths.

Don't forget to pick up your 'omikuji' fortune slip on your way out. No need to look for anything to tie the bad-luck fortunes to - Oedo-Onsen only has the good-luck kind.

by Tony McNicol
Koto-ku, Aomi 2-6-3.
Telecom Center Station on Yurikamome line (2 minutes walk); Tokyo Teleport Station on Rinkai line (2 minutes by free bus service)
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