Lee Byung Hun, \'I was shocked by ahjumas coming into the open-air onsen\'

Thanks to ylin for the translation from article at cn.joins.com

Lee Byung-hun: \'I was shocked by the ahjumas who came into the open-air onsen\'


Korean star, Lee Byung-hun revealed an incident that has happened at the open-air onsen.

Lee Byung-hun who was at the press conference of \"IRIS\" held at the 9th Avenue on 12th May, talked about what happened at the open-air onsen when the reporters asked him if there was anything interesting during his stay in Japan.

Lee Byung-hun said: \"During my filming in Japan, I had a day break from filming. So, I went to a well-known open-air onsen in Akita with my manager in the evening. When we were relaxing ourselves in the dip, I was shocked to see a group of ajumas came walking in suddenly. As the place is very steamy and visibility is only about 2 meters, we were lucky that we were not being noticed and were able to leave the place safely.\"

He said: \"I experienced the cultural differences from this personal encounter at the Japanese onsen and I will not forget the fans that came to visit.\"

He continued to say in a surprise tone: \"It does not matter whether it was late in the night or early in the morning, we were always watched by 200-300 fans during our filming. It was really a very interesting experience. The fans would arrive early at the shooting site and they were always earlier than our staff.\"

Jung Joon-Ho, his co-star in IRIS said: \"Lee Byung-hun has mentioned that he love to drink red wine in his fan meet and interviews, so the Japanese fans sent a lot over. Inside Lee Byung-hun\'s room, there were several hundred bottles which he can enjoy the whole year-round.\" This confirms the high popularity of Lee Byung-hun.

February 12, 2010

Akita onsen historic, relaxing


When visitors to Nyuto Onsenkyo hot springs in Akita Prefecture comment on the milklike appearance of the hot water, locals quickly point out that the color has nothing to do with cows or other milk-producing creatures.

Adding to the confusion, Nyuto can also mean nipple. \"The name comes from the mountain, not the color of the hot water,\" Makoto Ninomiya, 44, who heads an association of Nyuto Onsenkyo inn operators, said, referring to Mount Eboshidake at the border of Akita and Iwate prefectures. The less formal name of the mountain is Nyutozan (mount nipple), and the summit is shaped like, you guessed it, a nipple. When people are asked to pick a name they associate with curative hot springs, Nyuto is frequently mentioned.

The use of hot springs for such therapeutic purposes is said to have started in the Edo Period (1603-1867).

According to Tadanori Matsuda, a professor at Sapporo International University and an expert on hot springs, the custom of visiting a hot spring for health reasons originated with farmers and fishermen. Needing to stay in shape for their jobs, they were regulars during their off seasons. \"Naturally people went because they hoped to cure illnesses, but this is a culture that survived because dipping in hot springs has a refreshening mental effect,\" Matsuda said. \"For the Japanese, going to a hot spring for its healing effects is a form of vacation.\"

Each of the seven inns of Nyuto Onsenkyo at the foot of the mountain has its own multiple sources of hot spring water containing minerals such as calcium chloride, hydrogen carbonate spring, simple sulfur, alkaline carbonated spring and radium. The mineral components result in baths with different colored water. \"In the past, some visitors complained that the hot water at their inn was transparent,\" Ninomiya said. \"But today, there are more people who do a little research beforehand and enjoy hot-spring hopping.\"

The inn Tsurunoyu is noted for its outdoor, milk-colored bath.

Legend has it that Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758-811), a warrior tasked to quell \"northern barbarians\" had his soldiers rest at the hot spring. If there is any truth to it, the place would have a history of more than 1,200 years. It is said that lodgings and roads to the hot spring were built by an Akita feudal lord who bathed there for therapeutic reasons in the early Edo Period. It opened to the public around 1700.

People nationwide flock to the spa to try its therapeutic baths. Hitoshi Yoshimoto, a 47-year-old nurse bathing there on a recent day, traveled from Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, with his son, Wataru, 8. He has visited Tsurunoyu for eight years, after developing a lower backache at work assisting elderly patients getting out of and into bed. He bathes for 20 minutes each time, repeating the process three or four times a day. \"I\'m getting a lot better,\" Yoshimoto said. \"It refreshes the mind, more than anything.\"

Tsurunoyu\'s fame goes beyond Japan, luring foreign tourists. Yi Gang-bom, 28 and Yu Hye-rim, 26, from Seoul, came to see the location where a scene in a South Korean drama was shot. Popular actor Lee Byung-hun and actress Kim Te-hi, both clad in yukata, had been filmed dipping their feet in Tsurunoyu\'s outdoor bath.

The outdoor bath was the brainchild of Tsurunoyu president Kazushi Sato, 62, who took over management of the facility in 1981. As the number of off-season farmers arriving for cures dwindled, he transformed Tsurunoyu into an inn with meal service. Guests staying at conventional therapeutic hot spring inns often cook their own food. Sato was also successful in luring casual vacationers. If guests stay at least three nights, the inn charges 6,500 yen ($71) per night, per person with three meals included. The traditional six tatami-mat rooms have neither TV or radio.

At the outdoor bath, hot water wells up from the rock bed. It is more than 60 degrees and transparent. But it becomes milky as its temperature drops below 50 degrees.


Nyuto Onsenkyo is a 50-minute bus ride from JR Tazawako Station on the JR Akita Shinkansen Line. It is about a three-hour ride on the Komachi bullet train from Tokyo Station. Nyuto Osenkyo is also about a two-hour shared-taxi ride from Akita Airport, an 70-minute flight from Tokyo\'s Haneda Airport or 90 minutes from Osaka Airport in Itami. For more on the hot springs, visit (www.nyuto-onsenkyo.com)

Source: asahi.com