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Get a fishy foot bath, soak in a coffee pool at facility in Hakone

The coffee pool at Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Hakone, Japan, allows guests to soak in coarse coffee brewed from hot spring water.

ERICA EARL/STARS AND STRIPES

By ERICA EARL | Stars and Stripes | Published: October 22, 2020

On a busy morning or a day where you feel drained of energy, have you ever joked about how you could just dive into a pool of coffee?

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in misty Hakone, Japan, makes this a reality.

Billing itself as a “spa amusement park,” Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, known locally as just Yunessun, is a unique hot spring experience that features 23 different themed baths, including green tea, wine, sake and coffee pools.

The Yunessun website says these experiences are meant to emulate luxury enjoyed by the likes of Cleopatra.

The park also includes a hot tub terrace themed after the anime series “Evangelion” and an outdoor cave pool featuring a waterfall, swim-up aquariums and three water slides.

The themed baths, especially the sake and coffee ones, are incredibly aromatic. Warning signs around the pools remind visitors that they cannot actually drink their contents.

The biggest draw of the wine, sake and coffee pools is being aware of their unique contents. While placards around the spa boast that benefits of bathing in these include detoxification, rejuvenation and smoother-feeling skin, each pool, other than having varied good smells, felt very similar to one another.

The highlight of Yunessun, however, is the Dr. Fish Foot Bath. This attraction allows guests to sit knee-deep in a pool as Garra rufa, a breed of small tropical fish, eat away at dead skin.

While the experience does not hurt, it is a strange sensation. The second your feet hit the water, dozens of the small fish get to work on your “fish pedicure.” It tickles, especially when they get between your toes or in the knee pit. The process leaves you with exfoliated skin and a lingering feeling of “what did I just experience?” It’s like a small-scale piranha attack in which the fish merely nibble rather than bite.

While this experience is fairly common around Japan, Yunessun offers a very beautiful and Instagram-worthy spot to do this, and at only one dollar per person for 15 minutes, it is inexpensive.

The themed pool section of Yunessun is swimsuit only, and tattoos must be covered. I covered mine with bandages, and that sufficed.

A nice feature of Yunessun is that guests are issued armbands that can be used to pay for food, drinks and additional services, eliminating the need to make a run back to the locker room to fetch your wallet while cold and dripping wet.

For those looking for a more traditional onsen experience, there is a nude open-air hot spring area called the Mori no Yu.

Every day at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., guests may watch as employees replenish the wine bath by dumping bottles of house red into the pool.

earl.erica@stripes.com
Twitter: @ThisEarlGirl

DIRECTIONS: Address: 1297 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo Bezirk, Kanagawa 250-0407. Google plus code: 62QW+W3 Hakone, Kanagawa

TIMES: Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Mori no Yu is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

COSTS: 3,500 yen, or about $33, for both the themed pools and Mori no Yu area; 2,500 yen for just the themed pool area and 1,500 yen for just the Mori no Yu. There are also special rates for children under the age of 12 and adults over 60.

FOOD: The spa features a snack and drink bar as well as an on-site restaurant.

INFORMATION: Phone: 46-082-4126; Online: yunessun.com/global/en

The Dr. Fish Foot Bath at Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Hakone is filled with small fish that will nibble dead skin off your feet and legs.
ERICA EARL/STARS AND STRIPES