The Only Detoxing Herbal Steam Onsen: Kannawa Mushiyu

Kannawa Mushiyu was founded in 1276 by a Buddhist monk in the Kamakura period. It is a steam bath using sekisho, a Japanese herb, which has a wonderful scent. It is very similar to the sauna that comes from Finland, but the smell of the sekisho herbs spread on the floor will relax both your mind and body. The scent of the sekisho is also described in many traditional Japanese poetry called haiku. This plant used to be very common and grow along clear streams, but now it is becoming rare. Now, it is only in the Kannawa District where you can experience the traditional Japanese steam bath using these herbs. In this article, we will introduce this unique Beppu Onsen (hot spring).

The founding of Kannawa Onsen

The monk who founded this onsen was named Ippen Shonin. Even those who lived far from the hot springs could still find them from the steam, so they advised him to use that steam to make the Kannawa Onsen. Many people still love this onsen area to this day because it became a place of relaxation. A monk will come to pay pilgrimage to the statue of Ippen Shonin every morning, so if you arrive at around 7:30 in the morning then you may be able to see it.

Outside of the Kannawa Onsen, there is a statue of Ippen Yukake Shonin, marked as “an image of a superior figure.” When people going to the onsen have a specific place on their body that they want healed, they can pour water onto that part of the statue and then they will be cured.

One specific case of this miracle was called the “Million Sticks.” After the war ended, the people who were injured in the fighting came back to Beppu to experience “toji” (healing through entering onsen). It is said that because of the onsen’s healing powers, people were able to leave the crutches they brought to the onsen behind as they were leaving.

A steamy experience

This is by far the biggest draw to this onsen. First, change into a yukata or a t-shirt and shorts and then enter the stone steam room. From the moment you open the door, you will be wrapped in the smell of sekisho.

Once you enter the steam room, lie down on the bed of Japanese medicinal herbs for 8 to 10 minutes. You will sweat a lot, but it feels very refreshing.

If you have ever eaten steamed food, then you will now experience the same steaming process that that food went through.

Refreshing after you sweat

This onsen has not only a steam onsen but also an uchiyu (inner bath) that you should enter after leaving the steam room. This is also from natural hot spring water, so you will get all the benefits of an onsen. There are showers as well as amenities supplied, so you can thoroughly clean yourself after sweating.

Relaxing after the hot water

After you leave the bath, you can relax in the massage chairs outside, as well as drink milk and eat pudding. This is the best way to finish up a trip to an onsen, so why don’t you try it if you have time?

In case you do not have much time

If you do not have time to enjoy the full onsen, then at least try the foot bath, located by the steam room. One of the best things about onsen is that it can relax your whole body even if you just put in your feet. This is also a steam bath, so feel free to adjust the cover to find the best level of steam.

Basic Info


How to get to Beppu, where Kannawa Mushiyu is located
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