The largest bath in Kyushu, in a well-preserved structure from the Edo period

Sakura-yu

Sakura-yu is a hot spring in a majestic wooden structure which is recorded to have been used as a teahouse by the Hosokawa lords about 370 years ago. Having loved as a public hot spring since the major renovation in the early Meiji period, Yamaga’s hot spring is now reconstructed with the original atmosphere. As seen in the northern and southern gabled entrances, unique cross-shaped roofs, and Ryu-no-yu bath for special guests, the architecture style from the Edo period is reproduced as much as possible. Enjoy the impressive scale and atmosphere you cannot experience in other hot springs.

Bath Information

Women’s Bath

An impressive high-ceiling space with exposed wooden beams and pillars spreads in the large bath. The smooth-textured hot water, popular among the locals, flows directly from the hot spring source. Lean on the backrest in the bath and enjoy bathing.

Men’s Bath
Hot Spring Water Drinking Room
  • Opening hours: 6:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
  • Closed: Third Wednesday of each month (if it falls on a national holiday, closed on the next weekday)
Admission fee
Adults (Junior high school students and older. Same for below) 300 yen
Children (Three years old – elementary school students. Same for below) 150 yen
People with disabilities (Adults) 150 yen
People with disabilities (Children) 80 yen
12 coupons for adults (250 yen per ticket) 3,000 yen
30 coupons for adults (200 yen per ticket) 6,000 yen
12 coupons for children (125 yen per ticket) 1,500 yen
30 coupons for children (100 yen per ticket) 3,000 yen

Ryu-no-yu

The gorgeous bath for distinguished guests.

  • Visiting hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Closed: Third Wednesday of each month (if it falls on a national holiday, closed on the next weekday)

Built as a pre-washing room for feudal lords, Ryu-no-yu is characterized by the marble floor with checkered patterns and the drawing of dragons on the ceiling. The room is currently for display only, but the elaborate interior is worth a sight.

Resting Room

Relax yourself after bathing.

  • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Closed: Third Wednesday of each month (if it falls on a national holiday, closed on the next weekday)

Customers who bathed in Sakura-yu can use the resting room where they can eat and drink. Take a rest in the relaxing Japanese-style room with tatami mats and traditional tables.

Documentation Room

Discover the history of Sakura-yu.

  • Visiting hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Closed: Third Wednesday of each month (if it falls on a national holiday, closed on the next weekday)

The 800-year history of Yamaga Onsen is presented with paintings and pictures. The historical transformation of Sakura-yu is also explained.

Tourist Information Center

Offering hospitality to make Yamaga more enjoyable

  • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Closed: Third Wednesday of each month (if it falls on a national holiday, closed on the next weekday)

The Tourist Information Center inside Sakura-yu provides tourist information on Yamaga. In addition to pamphlets and guidebooks, bicycles and yukata (seasonal) are available for rental. Come visit before going around the city.

Sightseeing Bicycle Rental

  • Rental hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Rental fee (up to 4 hours): Electric bicycle 540 yen, normal bicycle 320 yen

Bicycles are a great way to go around Yamaga. Feel the nature, history and culture of Yamaga while cycling!

Yamaga Hot Spring Town Sightseeing Set (Yukata Rental) (until the end of September 2016)

  • The set includes: yukata rental (yukata, obi, waist cord, geta sandals, help for dressing) + admission tickets for Yachiyoza Theater and Yamaga Tourou Museum + admission ticket for Sakura-yu
  • Rental fee: 4,000 yen for women, 5,000 yen for men (tax included)

Walk around Yamaga in yukata! After visiting the Yachiyoza Theater and the Yamaga Tourou Museum, you can relax yourself in the hot spring of Sakura-yu. If you are interested, please ask the staff at the Information Center.

※The Yachiyoza Theater may not be open for visitors in case of special events. In this case, the set will be 500 yen cheaper and include yukata rental and an admission ticket for Sakura-yu.

Wheelchair Rental

  • Rental hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Rental fee: free
  • Number of wheelchair for rental: 1

Free wheelchair rental is available, so that elderly visitors or visitors with walking difficulties can also enjoy Yamaga safely. Please ask the staff at the Information Center.

※Wheelchairs are limited in number and may not be available.

History of Sakura-yu

Revival of the 370-year-old beauty hot spring

Edo period

Tadatoshi Hosokawa, the first lord of the Higo-Hosokawa Clan and owner of Kumamoto Castle, fell in love with Yamaga’s hot spring and built a teahouse (which later became Sakura-yu) in 1640. According to the official records of the Hosokawa Clan, the renowned swordsman Musashi Miyamoto was invited upon completion. The building was also recorded on the map of Yamaga drawn in 1763.

Pained to see the smallness and degradation of the public bath, Tsunao Egami and Jinjuro Inoue spent 1,000 kan (worth 200 million yen today) for renovation, which lasted for two years. It completed in 1872, with support from the local governor Morihisa Hosokawa and cooperation of the citizens. Sakura-yu was thus reborn as the hot spring of citizens.

Shofu-kan, the two-story resting facility, was built during the renovation in 1898 supervised by Matahachiro Sakamoto, the master carpenter who built Dogo Onsen. Matsu-no-yu was created, while Ryu-no-yu and Otsugi-no-yu were left untouched. The baths were ranked as follows: Ryu-no-yu (for special guests), Matsu-no-yu (first class), Momiji-yu (second class), and Sakura-yu (third class). The bathrooms were extended northward, and the imposing gabled entrance was installed.

The bathroom of Sakura-yu was extended southward, and a gabled entrance and a changing room were added. It was during this renovation that the cross-shaped structure – Sakura-yu’s greatest feature – was completed, along with the northern and southern gabled entrances.

The floors of Sakura-yu’s bathtub and washing area were raised, and a glass window and sliding door were installed between the bathroom and the changing room. The pillars in the bathtub were removed, and the form of the bathtub was changed. Matsu-no-yu and Momiji-yu were also renovated: the former became men’s bath, and the latter became women’s bath. This greatly changed the atmosphere from the Meiji period.

The large fire that occurred in the city center in August 1971 encouraged discussions on the redevelopment. In 1973 Sakura-yu was demolished as part of the large-scale redevelopment project. A new building (Onsen Plaza Yamaga) was built in 1975, and Sakura-yu continued to operate inside the building until November 2009.

After three years, Sakura-yu reopened on November 23. Citizens who had waited for that day gathered in Sakura-yu to celebrate the reopening with cheers. Sakura-yu was revived as Kyushu’s largest bath in a well-preserved retro structure from the Edo period. It opened a new chapter in its history as Yamaga’s natural hot spring.