Onsen (hot springs) culture.
Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama (Iyo District), Shikoku, c. 1910.
The Natural Sand Baths and Onsen, Beppu, c. 1910-1930.
Taka-yu (“High Hot Spring”)
“This resort (alt. 3,000 ft.) is on the N. side of Zao-san, on the side opposite the Aone and Gaga hot springs. It has a number of meritorious hot springs, 19 in the village and many in and along the Zao-gawa; so numerous are they that for 10 m. the water of this river cannot be used for rice field irrigation, and fish cannot live in the stream. The spring waters are said to taste like lemonade but are not taken internally.
“From July 1 to November 1 attempts are made to keep up a motor car service from Hangö – ¥2.50 each way (30 min. up, 40 down), baggage over 65 lbs. must be sent by coolie — but, due to the execrably rocky road causing many tire punctures, the service is not dependable. So many contingencies enter into the means of conveyance that it is advisable, when conveyance is needed and is not obtainable, to telephone from the Hangö Post-office to a Taka-yu innkeeper and arrange this matter.
“For pedestrians the road is not difficult, and coolies can be hired at Hangö to carry baggage. In summer there is such a steady trickle of natives over the road that the 17 inns at the spa do a thriving business. In winter, with a 6 ft. average snowfall, students, and soldiers from the Yamagata garrison, visit the place to enjoy the skiing.
“The story covering the discovery of the spring and the erection of the shrine on the mountain back of the inns, as told by the natives, relates that long ago, say 71-130 CE, a general named Kibi Takayu was wounded by a poisoned arrow in a fight with the barbarians, and went into retirement in the neighborhood. One day, feeling better than usual, he took a walk with his followers.
“One of them, sent to gather some beautiful cherry blossoms flowering on the mountain, noticing a wisp of stream, investigated, and discovered the spring. Its waters finally cured the general, who, in gratitude for his recovery, built the shrine close to the cherry tree he had noticed, dedicating it to the ‘Gods of Healing’ – Oanamuchi and Sukuna-hikona – believing that they had caused his miraculous cure, and be named the spring, Sukawa Onsen (‘Sour River Spring’) – as it is sometimes called today.”
– The Hot Springs of Japan, compiled by Japanese Government Railways, 1922